Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

GONNA FLY AGAIN; Rocky May Be Older, but He's Far from Being Knocked out of the Ring Sylvester Stallone Is Back as 'Rocky Balboa,' and the Result Is Not Bad at All

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

GONNA FLY AGAIN; Rocky May Be Older, but He's Far from Being Knocked out of the Ring Sylvester Stallone Is Back as 'Rocky Balboa,' and the Result Is Not Bad at All

Article excerpt

Byline: MATT SOERGEL

Looking at that battered mug of his, at that arthritic, shambling body, you have to wonder: Sixteen years after Rocky V, does the Italian Stallion have another round in him?

Absolutely.

Rocky Balboa isn't great art, but it isn't anywhere close to embarrassing. And it could have been embarrassing, for both Sylvester Stallone and the character he plays, since they're getting back in the ring when that 60th birthday's looming ahead.

Instead, Rocky Balboa offers just the right proportions of sentiment and rueful humor and even plausibility - for the first hour and five minutes or so, anyway.

During that time, Bill Conti's score plays repeatedly, but with a small string section instead of those triumphal horns. The notes creep up on each scene, tentative, poignant.

That suits the tone of the story, in which a mellowed Rocky mourns still for his Adrian, dragging her brother Paulie (Burt Young) around on a tour of all the places in Philly where he used to go with her.

Paulie's hurting in his own way, too, but he acts grumpy instead of sad. You're living in the past, he tells Rocky.

He sure is. He spends his nights in a restaurant named for his dead wife, telling stories from the ring to his customers. One of his old opponents gets to eat there for free. And he strikes up a relationship with someone from the first movie - we won't tell you who - who's all grown-up now. Which figures, since it was 30 years ago.

Rocky Jr. (Milo Ventimiglia) is all grown up, too, and though he has a suit-and-tie job, he's not happy with life. Rocky Sr. corners him, giving him lessons learned in the ring: Take the hit and move on. That's how you win.

But is he going to listen? His dad's just an old guy giving old-guy advice.

Then Rocky Sr. gets jerked into the present with an offer to fight an exhibition against the current champ, Mason Dixon (real fighter Antonio Tarver).

Paulie's down on the idea. "What, you haven't peaked yet?" he grumps.

To his credit, though, the screenwriter Stallone is able to come up with a believable enough reason for the actor Stallone to get back in that ring. It involves ESPN and a computer simulation showing that Rocky in his prime would have beaten the champ. Then there's the "beast" that lives in Rocky still, even though he's just an old guy signing autographs and telling the same story for the 963rd time.

So he decides to put on those gray sweats, decides to start punching slabs of meat again, decides to run in the snow and up those steps. Even with arthritis and calcium deposits, Rocky's going to fight again.

That's when the trumpets come in with those familiar notes, blaring over a too-brief training montage that takes Rocky to the ring in the Las Vegas, veins rippling in his muscles.

What follows is competent enough, and I suppose it's inevitable: Rocky's gotta fight, after all. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.