US Release Date: 12-20-2006
Directed by: Sylvester Stallone
- Sylvester Stallone, as
- Rocky Balboa
- Burt Young, as
- Milo Ventimiglia, as
- Rocky Balboa Jr.
- Geraldine Hughes, as
- Antonio Tarver as
- Mason The Line Dixon
Sylvester Stallone in Rocky Balboa.
It always helps to enjoy a movie when you have little expectation for it. I had very little anticipation to see Stallone don another pair of boxing gloves. It all just seemed liked he was having this mid life crisis and wanted to prove to the world that he was in shape for being almost 60. However, Rocky Balboa proves to be so much more than just an ego trip for Stallone.
Rocky is now long since retired and running an Italian diner back in his old neighborhood. His much beloved, and missed, wife has died. His son has moved away and is lost in the business world. A minor character from the first Rocky movie shows up and Rocky starts to have something to do besides pine over Adrian.
A computerized boxing match is shown on ESPN between Rocky, in his youth, and the current world champion, who is not a very popular athlete. Rocky wins and people start talking. Before you know it. Rocky wants to fight again and he is approached to get into the ring, for an exhibition fight, with the champ.
I had a little trouble trying to figure out why Rocky wants to get back into the ring. He tells Paulie that he's got something in the basement (stomach) that he's got to get out. Is it a gas bubble or the eye of the tiger? Either way, it's important to Rocky so it becomes important to the audience.
The greatest thing about watching this movie is that you get to visit with one of the greatest characters ever put on film! Rocky comes across as a dim bulb. But he spouts more common sense and sound advice than any intellectual. The lecture he gives his son, in the street, should be given to every graduating senior about to enter the real world.
Like all of the Rocky movies, this one is once again about being determined and doing the right thing. All of Rocky's opponents have been egotistical jerks. Sometimes Rocky beats these guys and sometimes he gets beats, but no matter what the outcome of the match is, Rocky is always the winner. As Adrian once said "You got heart Rock."
Sylvester Stallone and Milo Ventimiglia in Rocky Balboa.
Rocky Balboa is the one great role of Stallone's career (I'm sorry but Rambo doesn't cut it). And Eric is exactly right. The joy of this movie is revisiting the Italian Stallion. The focus never shifts from him, but then why should it? I can't think of another recent movie that is more completely and successfully dominated by one character.
Rocky is wiser and older but he hasn't aged so much as ripened. He looks a bit grizzled around the edges but remains very much the same man physically. This is pretty remarkable when you stop to think that the first movie came out in the distant, and technologically primitive, year of 1976. The movie comments on Rocky's age in a humorous moment when the champ, in reply to a statement Rocky makes, asks him, "Where did that come from the 80's?" "No that was probably the 70's." comes Rocky's matter of fact reply.
Of course the climax comes with Rocky's return to the ring, but for me the emotional peak happens when Rocky gives his son a dose of impassioned fatherly advice on life. "It will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me or nobody is going to hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard you hit, it is about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much can you take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done!" Go Rocky.
Never giving up, that's how you win.
Like you Eric, I went into this movie with such low expectations that even just a mediocre movie would have been a pleasant surprise, and so I was completely caught off guard by how much I ended up enjoying it. Rocky really is a classic character and apparently a timeless one.
I think the reason Rocky gets back in the ring is pretty clear. Since Adrian's death he's been stuck in the past. Like the old neighborhood he's been decaying around the edges and stagnating in the little world he's created for himself. He's not just talking to his son when he says, "It is about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much can you take and keep moving forward." Adrian's death was a big hit to him and he'd stopped moving forward. This movie is about him regaining his momentum.
Like all the Rocky movies this one is energizing. When the inevitable training montage begins along with the Rocky theme you can't help but get a surge of adrenaline. And damn, has there ever been a character in the history of movies that's been rooted for more than Rocky Balboa when he's in the ring? Sure Mason Dixon is no Apollo Creed, Clubber Lang or Ivan Drago and doesn't inspire the same emotion, but you still want Rocky to win desperately or at least hang in there, because as the Rocky movies have always said, it's not about winning, but about how you should never stop trying.
Sure Rocky has aged a good few years and he's a shadow of his former self as this movie is of the original Rocky movie, but that shadow is still plenty big enough and a lot larger than I expected.
Photos © Copyright MGM (2006)