It’s pretty easy to take pot-shots at Sylvester Stallone after he decided to bring the Rocky franchise out of mothballs. It’s last chapter – Rocky V – was over 15 years ago! What more does the character have to say? Especially now that he and the actor who portray him are over 60.
Obviously there is no where else in the world except Hollywood where anyone could expect to find a 60 year-old former boxer going toe-to-toe with a heavyweight title holder. But my attitude about this latest installment – simply titled Rocky Balboa (numerals are apparently no longer in favor) – is starting to take a turn for the better. Stallone is completely aware of how cynics are approaching the film. "It’s a desperate plea for attention. A last-ditch effort to revive a sagging career." Stallone, as writer and director, incorporated that into the script and make Rocky the avatar for his own career roadblocks. It’s pretty clever, when you think of it. Or, perhaps that Stallone has become so closely associated with a pugilist who is a little slow on the uptake, we give him less credit than he deserves.
I love the Rocky movies. The first and the fourth primarily among them. Yeah, they can be a little cheesy. But it’s like a cold dose of inspiration if you watch them in the right frame of mind. I think my initial reservations about Rocky Balboa had less to do with Stallone being over the hill and more to do with the film tarnishing what came before it. True, after Rocky V, there was no where to go but up. But those scenes in the trailer of Rocky hitting the sides of beef and running the steps of the Phillidelphia Art Mueseum… it looked like they were trying to invoke the spirit of the original in a wholly inauthentic way.
Now that I understand the broader context – that Stallone as the originator of this enduring American symbol of triumph over adversity – wants to put the punctuation mark on his creation… Well, I’m sympathetic to that and now more than a little curious.
That said, if Rocky doesn’t die at the end of this movie, we know that Hollywood has become completely untethered to any sense of realizism. I mean, he’s 60 years old, for cryin’ out loud!
Switching gears, Monday night we set up an impromptu talkcast this time featuring co-host Joe Dunn from Joe Loves Crappy Movies. It was always my intention to do a show with Joe. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of film, is very easy to talk to and is hilarious to boot. Unfortunately, technical problems prevented him from participating in the first two broadcasts. Our plan at the time was for one of us to get their feet wet and get familiar with the technology and hopefully by the time we had the technical problems sorted out, we could settle on a format and bring you guys a really professional show.
Well, Joe has about half of the technical problems ironed out. He’s able to call-in, but because he’s running on a Mac OS, the TalkShoe application doesn’t agree with it. So he can’t see any of the chat room stuff. No matter. With one hurdle crossed, we decided to do another show at the last minute and get him on the line.
The show turned out great – better than I could have possibly imagine. Joe and I spent a fair share of the first hour talking about The Pursuit of Happyness. I would have been perfectly content to let it end there. But around the start of the second hour, we had a bevy of special guests who contributed to the conversation. Gordon McAlpin from Multiplex, Zach Miller from Joe and Monkey and Mitch Clem from San Antonio Rock City. With everyone on the line, it was like a little mini-reunion! I had an opportunity to hang out with all of these guys (Joe included) at Wizard World Chicago earlier this year and it was a real treat to be able to talk to them again. We had a GREAT time.
The show ended up going a little long. Okay – a LOT long. But I think you’ll find it an entertaining listen. You can download a copy of the show here. Throw it on in the background while you’re working on a spreadsheet or something. Download it to your iPod and listen to it during a particularly boring meeting. You’ll enjoy it. Trust me.
My last bit of news is that tomorrow is my 29th birthday. Every year I tell myself that I’m not going to make a big deal out of it. But what the hell? I like to celebrate like anyone else. Cami and I are going out to dinner Friday night and I think we’re going to see The Polar Express on IMAX afterwords. Either that or Happy Feet. Whatever is showing. Our IMAX is part of our downtown science center, so they’re always trying to rope in kids in the hope that they’ll check out the rest of the facility and maybe learn something. Neither film is really at the top of my "must-see" list, but I appreciate the irony of seeing films of this quality on the World’s Largest Screen. It should be fun.
That’s it for now. Talk to you all again on Friday!