I have watched movies my entire life. I am a huge fan of the silver screen. Even to this day, I can recall where and under what circumstances I’ve seen certain movies. Some movies stay with you forever, and never get old, no matter how many times you see them.
For you addicts of the Critical Palate, for all of you going back and reading my early posts, you know how I feel about the current state of Hollywood. Most of the stuff coming out is crap, no matter what the critics tell us…I look at the list of Academy Award nominees and I wonder how some of this stuff is getting made, and how Meryl Streep keeps getting nominated…ugh! Also, call me a heretic, but GMFB about Heath Ledger already…as I’ve said several time-paint my face and ask me to act like a drooling freak, and I’ll give you a performance. Playing a messed-up psycho isn’t hard when there’s nothing to compare it to, other than that scene-chewer Jack Nicholson…
With that in mind, I had the pleasure of watching “Rocky” today. That story is as timeless as a fine, three-button Brooks Brothers suit. “Rocky” speaks to our core-a down and out nobody, overcoming all odds, just looking for a chance to be a winner, and if not a winner, at least a contender with some self-respect. I have watched this movie a million times, and no matter how many times, as soon as Bill Conti’s music starts building to its crescendo in the final rounds, I can’t help but get goose bumps. This is “the” underdog movie that defined the genre. There isn’t an underdog tale that Hollywood has produced since 1977 that hasn’t been compared to “Rocky”. From “The Karate Kid” to “Rudy” to “Hoosiers”…even their ad campaigns referred to “Rocky”.
In 1976, as a relative unknown, Stallone drove “Rocky” to 3 Academy Awards (Best Director, Best Film Editing and Best Picture) and received nominations in every other major category (Best Actor, 2 Best Supporting Actors [Burgess Meredith and the always under-respected Burt Young], Best Actress, Best Original Song and Best Writing-Original Work). Seeing “Rambo--VA Hospital” last year, I can’t help but shake my head at what a shell of his former self Sly Stallone has become. Between the Botox and HGH injections, if he smiles his cheeks might fall in. It’s sad to see what has happened to him physically, but going back to his seminal role as Rocky Balboa, a young Sly Stallone had an understated brilliance about him as he inhabited the role that defined a genre.
Sure after Rocky II, it might have been time to hang up the cup, but I’ll give him Rocky III as a fun way to go out. Once we get to Siberia in IV, I’m ready to hit the vodka, by V, I want Tommy Morrison to beat him silly, but in “Rocky Balboa”, it was a nice, quiet way for Rocky to fade away. Frankly, the most recent “Indiana Jones” was a stink-burger too, but we have to give actors like Stallone and Ford a pass when it comes to letting go of their defining roles…sometimes you just want to visit with old friends to say goodbye.
You’re been great…now The Hardest Working Man in Show Business…James Brown!