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Hours are spent trying to light
Stallone's face without melting
it after his 394th plastic surgery.
Review written by: Alex Sandell
As a child, I enjoyed all of the Rocky movies. As an adult, I still can't help but love the first one, think the second is okay and pretty much hate the rest. But I keep watching them. Is it nostalgia? Is it a humungous clot in my brain that will prove to be fatal? Is it a man-crush on Stallone? What keeps me going back to these movies? I think it's the premise. I think it's the premise that keeps most people going back for more.
Sly hit upon a concept that captured the imagination of a nation and of a world. Something about a retarded boxer beating the odds made the odd man out feel he had a chance. In Rocky Balboa Rocky's still mentally-challenged, still has a turtle fetish and still has a thing for drinking raw eggs. What he doesn't have is Adrian (Talia Shire) of "Yo, Adrian" fame. Without someone to say "Yo" to, is Rocky still Rocky? Not in this critic's opinion.
Adrian's absence makes this the second worst Rocky of the bunch, after the embarrassingly cartoonish Rocky III (which, as a kid, I loved -- but as a kid I also loved The A-Team and that moronic Pac-Man cartoon). Stallone tries to make up for the fact that he was paid too much to pay Shire too little to reprise her role as his loving wife by constantly sitting at Adrian's grave (tombstones don't demand salaries) and saying profound stuff such as, "Yo." But not seeing what he and his wife endured, you never feel for the guy as much as the script wants you to.
The film still has plenty of simplistic ideas that will appeal to the masses. It actually challenges you not to enjoy it (my aunt jumped up and down singing, "Getting Stronger!" in the theater when the movie ended), but it's not the comeback Stallone wanted. Then again, it's not the embarrassing failure many predicted. It's just Rocky and for many of us that's good enough. At least those of us under 15 or living in the past.
Something's sort of sad about Stallone using his signature character to revive his career whenever it's taking a downturn. Rocky III was originally meant to be the last Rocky picture. Then Stallone said Rocky IV would definitely be the last, joking around about the only thing left being Rocky in Space. Then he came back with Rocky V claiming it would be the final -- for real this time -- and that it had to be made because Rocky had to be taken back to his roots. Now he's back with Rocky Balboa using the same excuse for reviving the character as he used to justify part 5.
Rocky Balboa feels more like an outline than it does an actual movie. A bunch of half-baked ideas strung together to justify yet another Rocky film. A total rush-job for a quick buck, 30 years after Mickey (Burgess Meredith) told Rocky that he was too old to fight. The critic part of me feels that Stallone should have either worked harder on fleshing everything out or should have dropped the idea completely. The Rocky fan in me looks for any excuse to justify this antiquated series.
No matter how hard the Rocky fan tried to punch through the bullshit, the critic in me won this round. Rocky Balboa had a bunch of good ideas that didn't really go anywhere. It felt like a movie where huge chunks were taken out to make it shorter and to give it one more play time each day at theaters. So many ideas were briefly touched upon (and they were good ideas, too), but then left by the wayside. Too much was left unexplained with no real flow or development of the ideas or characters, other than Rocky Balboa himself.
Sure, Mr. Balboa's the title character, but in the other 5 Rocky movies, Stallone remembered that it wasn't a one man show. In Rocky Balboa, it is all ROCKY BALBOA -- everything else is window dressing. As mentioned above, the movie feels like a nostalgic rush-job filmed for a quick buck. Stallone should have either worked harder on fleshing everything out and making something unique or should have dropped the idea of bringing his trademark character back to the screen. "It ain't over 'til it's over." Well, Sly, if Rocky Balboa is any indication, it was over at least 20 years ago.
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