Saturday, December 23, 2006

I Cried

by Count Olaf
It was too short. Other than that, I thought Rocky Balboa was the perfect ending to an excellent series. There's so much I want to say about this, and it may include spoilers so beware, but I don't know if I can get it all in.
To get in the mood I've been listening to the soon-to-be-released Rocky Balboa:The Best Of Rocky Soundtrack on Rhapsody for the past few weeks. It's excellent, dated, and excellent again. I watched the original Rocky OnDemand last week. I've been talking it up to people at work. Been reading about it online everyday. I checked in for every single one of the Q&A's at AICN.
So, yes, I'm a fan.
And, yes, that makes my opinion biased. But as a fan your opinion can go a few different ways. You can be so tied to what already exists that you feel you know what happens and needs to happen next. We all know LOTR fans who hated the movies because they dropped key parts of the books only to find other fans who adored the movies because they were exactly how the books were envisioned in their heads. Who's more right? Were the ones who liked it less justified than the ones who hated it? I've already told you I loved the movie and that I'm a diehard fan. Am I more or less valid than Bill Simmons? I don't think so, but you've got to make your own decision on that one.
Rocky Balboa not only works as continuation or sunset on the fictional life of Rocky Balboa and all of the characters that come with it. I could see myself and people I've read about and heard from in this movie.
The beginning surprised me. Adrian has died of cancer 4 years prior (not the surprise) and Rocky visits her often (everyday it would seem). Paulie can't take the visits to the grave and the old haunts anymore because, while it helps Rocky remember the good times, it makes Paulie remember how horribly he treated his own sister. This makes Paulie more real to me. For him to say that in the beginning broke my heart. He's always been a lousy shiftless layabout moocher wanting nothing more than to ride Rocky's coattails while drinking himself through life. And I expected nothing different than that from him this time around. But while he's still incorrigible, he clearly hates himself for how he was previously and doesn't see any way to make it right.
Rocky's son, to me, alludes to movie fans who are questioning this comeback. When I first heard about this movie and its premise in 2005 I thought it was ridiculous. I forwarded the news blurb to my friends as if it was the latest YouTube joke of the day. We laughed about Mason "The Line" Dixon and how ludicrous it would be for an old fighter to come back. Especially after the RockyV bomb! Dumb dumb dumb....Which is how Rocky's son is inside the movie. He distances himself from Rocky...wants to come out of his shadow...doesn't like the attention...thinks he's too old...thinks the comeback is all about ego...until he realizes he hasn't made that decision on his own. He's let people around him feed him this as well as create the shadow that he thinks his father is casting. Rocky gives him a great talkin-to outside of the restaurant and while I think the turnaround is a little too quick, the right things were said.
Paulie, ESPN, the press, Mason Dixon, the boxing commission, et al, represent basically everyone who said it couldn't be done (which is almost everyone). Fans & non-fans included. They call him a Balboasaurus (as you heard in the trailer) and scoff at the ridiculousness of it all. A friend of mine at work laughs off Rocky because he's a boxing fan and the fighting in this movie is not real. And Stallone is too old. Of course! It's a movie! My only response is "You DO know that Johnny Depp is not a real pirate, don't you?" I do agree that there has to be some believability to this, and 60 years old is definitely too old to fight, but once you see the kind of shape he's in, you can suspend your disbelief for 90 minutes to think he might be able to drop a few "hurtin' bombs". And if you can't, then you can't.
Little Marie (great addition) represents the few...VERY few...who believed that Sly could get this done and do it well. When Rocky questions himself (as I'm sure Stallone did), wondering if it's only about vanity & ego, Marie is there to tell him that he needs to do what's right for him. "Fighter's fight." Kudos to anyone who stood behind Stallone and helped him get this done. I think this movies shows that he was right to finish off the series this way.
Overall you know that Rocky is "the greatest underdog story of our time." The message is to stay true to yourself, if you believe it you can achieve it, don't only care about what others think, etc etc etc. Themes we've heard a million times, but they resonate profoundly in this simple character created 30 years ago. It's like hearing from an old friend as opposed to a random person on the street. You can trust Rocky in his simplicity.
I would say for Rocky fans this is a must see. For people who don't like Rocky, you're not going to find anything really new here except more insight into the genuine heart of Rocky and things I've already mentioned. For those on the fence, I'd definitely recommend seeing it. Especially if #5 soured you on the whole series. That was not the proper closure needed on this character. He gets it right in this 6th "round".
I thought it was a well-directed, well-written, well-acted, too short (and therefore too easily moved from point to point), but ultimately satisfying, finish to one of my favorite movie series of all time. Sure, I'm a fanboy drooling, but I think you can trust me.



Blogger Count Olaf said...

I forgot to mention my theater experience tonight. The theater in town got a few DLP digital projectors a few weeks ago. I saw Casino Royale in digital and it was awesome. I figured Rocky would get the same treatment....not so.

Digital was reserved for Eragon, Pursuit of Happyness, Charlotte's Web, Night at the Museum...maybe others. Rocky was playing on only 1 screen while Night at the Museum was playing on two. I guess they listen to the box office estimators. =)

I showed up about 10 minutes before the beginning and the theater was about 10-15% full. Not a good sign. But people of all ages kept trickling in. It was definitely a spread out demographic split between men and women, young and old. I saw tweeners and people 60+. By the time the lights dimmed for the trailers to begin, it was standing room only as people looked for the single seats left.

You could feel the excitement in the room when the traliers were over and Rocky came across the screen. Everyone laughed at the funny parts, got excited for the training montage, clapped during the early rounds of the fight and applauded at the end. Definitely a positive crowd to see it with. (though no cheering or chants of Rocky...that was only in my head, I think).

I don't know if it will overtake the b.o. this weekend, but it will definitely have a solid showing. I would think the per screen is going to be tops...

12/23/2006 02:45:00 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

I think your opinion is just as valid as anyone else's. Even if you are a drooling fanboy, that perspective is important too.

I think you've convinced me to go see it, although I'm not real sure when I'll get the chance.

12/23/2006 01:55:00 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

So I got the chance Sunday night, and checked it out. I have to say, I was largely wrong about it. It's better than I thought it would be.

Really what struck me is that I was expecting it to be a nostalgia exercise. And it was, every step of the way. But unlike so many nostalgia exercises - think The Rolling Stones going out on tour - it didn't feel cynical about what it was doing at all. In fact, I'd describe it as downright good-hearted.

12/26/2006 10:26:00 AM  
Blogger Count Olaf said...

I think it was definitely Sly being as honest as he could be about growing old and wanting one last shot at glory. Good-hearted...that's a good description. As long as people can stay un-cynical themselves.

12/27/2006 01:13:00 PM  
Blogger Jackrabbit Slim said...

I loved the first Rocky. It came out when I was fifteen, I've probably seen it three or four times. My younger sister had a huge crush on Stallone. But I haven't seen any of the sequels, nor do I have any desire to. I think it's because I saw the first film as self-contained, and didn't need any continuation.

12/27/2006 01:46:00 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

Well, Count, Simmons posted his followup review today, along with reader emails. Sadly, I don't see yours.

12/28/2006 11:44:00 PM  
Blogger Count Olaf said...

I really *really* wanted to send one, but I was away from home for 4 days over Christmas weekend, got back late Tuesday and thought it was alreay too late. I guess I still can..

I just see in his reviews (and many of the fan e-mails) that he's more of a fan of the Rocky training montage and fight scenes as opposed to the entire story. He needs a villain that Rocky pummels at the end. He still goes crazy over Rocky defeating communism by his "I can change, you can change" speech. But he doesn't hide his hate for Adrian...even though she is the basis for much of what Rocky does and the real reason for his hopes and dreams and why he wipes the mat with people at the end of 2 of the movies.

12/30/2006 11:26:00 AM  

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