Thursday, December 28, 2006

Rocky Balboa (2006)

Starring Sylvester Stallone, Geraldine Hughes, Antonio Tarver, et al
Rated PG, 102 minutes

I haven’t seen any “Rocky” movie. I’ve also never seen an Austin Powers film, “Napoleon Dynamite,” anything from the “Alien” series; I can’t remember “Terminator” after having taken them in on cable reruns when I was 5 or 6 – etc, etc. With the exception of “Napoleon Dynasucks” (ahem), my friends lambaste me for these theatric oversights. But I don’t think it’ll take away from my ability to critique this, “Rocky Balboa,” the sixth and final movie in the “Rocky” series.

Sylvester Stallone stars as the venerable boxer, now owner of Adrian’s Restaurant in Philadelphia, named for his deceased wife. We join him going through the city with old friend and meat packer Paulie, visiting old sights and reflecting. He tries to catch up with his son, Rocky Jr., who is simply too busy for his aging father. At the same time, heavyweight champion of the world Mason “The Line” Dixon (Tarver) is racking up a stream of victories, and it seems no opponent can stop him. A computer simulation on ESPN between the new champ and old champ Balboa sparks interest in an exhibition fight.

The emotions here are simple, straightforward and abbreviated. However, they still feel real and are very engaging. It’s a very likable and accessible movie – and I say this coming from having no “Rocky” background. I mean, I know Mr. T was Clubber Lang and Hulk Hogan was Thunderlips, there was a trainer named Mickey, Apollo Creed, etc, etc, but I haven’t seen a single movie in full. “Rocky Balboa” is a very honest portrayal of a should-be-retired boxer taking his final bow and letting age hit him gracefully.


I wrestled with a score for this one, but couldn’t see myself going lower than three-and-a-half. It was just so darn likable. I mean, I gave it 4 stars despite AJ Benza and Skip Bayless being in it for crying out loud!

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