MGM Distribution Company
Sylvester Stallone, Burt Young, Milo Ventimiglia, Antonio Tarver, Geraldine Hughes
Smartly, Rocky Balboa
not only acknowledges how ridiculous and unseemly it is to resubmit the Italian Stallion into the pop-culture fray of 2006, but wraps the entire movie around that premise. Not simply nostalgic, but also a 90-minute statement on nostalgia itself, this unlikely sixth installment in the Rocky
saga defies expectations by staying true to the against-all-odds core of the first film and making liberal use of visual quotations ' scenery, cinematography, film stock â?¦ hell, entire scenes ' that remind the audience why they cared about this dumb boxer in the first place. Stallone gamely refuses to pretend that Balboa in 2006 is anything but a past-his-prime, punch-drunk fighter, acting in a way that's almost parodic. When he circulates through his restaurant (named, naturally, Adrian's), robotically telling stories and getting pictures snapped with patrons, it's as humanizing as it is pathetic, and it's just one of the many methods used to hammer home the idea that this isn't 1976 Philadelphia anymore. Sure, it's obscene in its inspirational positivity, from Bill Conti's theme music during training sessions and the chants of 'Rocky! Rocky! Rocky!â?� after the climactic fight, but you'd have to be a cold-hearted asshole not to get a little worked up. Rocky Balboa
may not be as good as the first two Rocky
movies, but it's nowhere near as bad as the fifth. Which is about all you can ask.