Page 2

I just saw "Rocky Balboa" (utterly hysterical), and I'm suddenly realizing the similarities between it and "Terminator 3." Both starred past-their-prime action heroes. Both were a resurrection for a seemingly dead franchise. Both contained preposterous plots in which the lead character was an incredible underdog. In fact, if you changed Stallone and Antonio Tarver into futuristic cyborgs … you'd have T3!
--Cliff, Fall River, Mass.

A guy walking out of the theater summed up this train wreck best. He said, "This movie makes 'Rocky V' look like 'Citizen Kane.' "
--Drew Keena, Mendham, N.J.

PRO-ROCKY MAILBAG

Not all your feedback was negative. Here's what The Sports Guy's readers had to say in favor of "Rocky Balboa."

I saw "Rocky Balboa" last night and pretty much agree with your original review. Despite being entertained and, yes, even getting caught up in it at times, it just reeked of Sly's desperation, and I just couldn't get past that. I compared the experience to attending a cheesy high school dance. It's kind of fun when you get over the fact that you're actually there and your principal is next to you doing the Running Man, but as an outsider looking in, it is just plain lame.
--Alex, Miami

I saw "Rocky Balboa" last night and specifically didn't read your review until afterward so I wouldn't be subconsciously influenced by it. But unfortunately, you were right … the movie is not very good and also kind of depressing. It's much better than "Rocky V," but so is every movie (with the exception of "Caddyshack II"). I couldn't decide which physical trait I found more disturbing – Stallone's eyes/eyebrows (Botox gone very wrong) or the bulging varicose veins on his right shoulder. It was clearly fifth-ranked in the Rocky sixpack.
--Andrew Eisen, Weston, Fla.

I wanted this movie to be so good so badly. I was humming Rocky songs from the early morning until I saw it late at night. Yet "Rocky Balboa" felt more like a victory lap than a movie. This movie was devoid of passion at every level. We needed goose bumps, danger and drama. Instead we got jokes, reminiscing and preaching. That being said, I'm still glad "Rocky V" (which never happened) is no longer the last movie of this franchise. Let's just rename "Rocky Balboa" as "Rocky V: At least it's not the other Rocky V" and be done with it. Agreed?
--Dan Janow, Hoboken, N.J.

When I saw the reviews for "Rocky Balboa," I'll admit it, I was pumped. I was too young to see the original "Rocky" movies in the theater and completely appreciate them for what they are, so I assumed this was my chance. Well, I was wrong. I absolutely hated the new "Rocky" for about 4,000 reasons – No. 1 being that Rocky looked like a cross between an 80-year-old Elton John and Joshua Jackson.
--Josh, New York

"Rocky Balboa" is going to be a divisive movie because it's a mix of the inspiring and the embarrassing. The movie should have ended as he's entering the ring, right after Paulie says, "Whatever's inside you, get it all out tonight." If he really wanted to bring it full circle, that would have driven home the point – that it's the journey that makes a man, not the destination. Plus we would have been spared the closeups in the corner where Sly's awful toupee prevents you from suspending your disbelief.
--Robert, Brooklyn, N.Y.

To give a perspective on how bad "Rocky Balboa" actually was, my friends and I were "not in our right minds" when we saw it and still thought it was a train wreck. Usually any movie I see while "not in my right mind" is simply amazing, but "Rocky Balboa" was so bad I had more fun playing with my hands in the theater. Right when I saw that the movie was written by Sly Stallone, I turned to my buddy and said, "We're in for a bunch of laughs." On a side note, I nominate Rocky's speech to his son as the new No. 10 on the unintentional comedy scale. I never laughed so hard in my life.
--Dan, Miami

I think we need to come up with a theory that incorporates movies and sports. Call it the "Rocky Balboa" theory. I read all the reviews for this movie, most of them good except for yours. It was possibly the worst movie I've ever seen in a theater. I realized that all the critics' expectations must have been so low after "Rocky V," and Sly is 60, so it actually seemed pretty good. The reality is it wasn't even as good a train wreck as I thought it would be. Think Brett Favre. After his awful season last year, he seems relatively good, but the reality is I would rather have 15 other quarterbacks than him. You're better off barely outperforming low expectations than failing to meet high ones. However, I tried this in a relationship, and it didn't work out so well.
--Peter, Hoboken, N.J.

I agree with you completely that this movie was an embarrassment. The movie wandered aimlessly around for what seemed like forever, and when we finally got to a training scene and "Gonna Fly Now" kicked in, I was ready to go. And then he ran through Philly with a small dog wearing a matching sweatshirt. Wow. I mean, there was plenty more that could be complained about, but wow.
--Gene, Long Island, N.Y.

I read your review of "Rocky Balboa" in The Mag and completely agreed. It was a Rocky film, so I had to see it, even though I knew it was going to suck. Big surprise. Eighty-odd minutes of boredom followed by a kicking training sequence followed by a great fight. Then I read your weekly football picks, and I see that you're backtracking after reading some reviews. Are you The Sports Guy or Leonard Maltin? You're like a guy who finally, FINALLY, breaks up with his psycho girlfriend only to get back together after a few of your buddies mention that she was hot. It's OK to dislike "Rocky Balboa," even though you're gonna watch it over and over and over again.
--Anand, Aliso Viejo, Calif.

Dude, always trust your first instinct – "Rocky Balboa" sucked a--. The big final fight was flatter than Kansas – there was no doubt Rocky would go the distance, and he didn't even have to make believers out of anyone, because the whole crowd was cheering his name in Round Zero. Worst of all, he got back into the fight because Tarver hurt his own hand – what the hell is that? Oh wait, never mind, now that I think about it, "Rocky IV" would have been so much more awesome if Drago had pulled his hamstring in Round 5. The crazy thing is, the movie could have actually been good. But Sly was too lazy/sloppy with the most emotional points in the movie. Boy, but Rocky sure did make a believer out of that white trash girl. That was something. Can't wait for "Rambo 8."
--Jeff, Washington, D.C.

I'm afraid your review was right. I went to see it last night and thought: Better than "Rocky V," but still not very good. Then I got home, and what was on? "Rocky V." And it was better than "Rocky Balboa." Go watch it again and tell me I'm wrong.
--Phil, Atlanta

Two things you can be sure of after seeing this debacle:
1. You won't see Burt Young again, ever.
2. Rocky will not be putting an end to terrorism.
--Bob Jarrett, St. Catharines, Ontario

"Rocky Balboa" was a disappointment because Antonio Tarver's character was horrendous, and there was only one fight. Why not have less reflection and one warm-up fight against Clubber Lang's kid? I think you're right that this movie hits people differently. Diehards are going to see it your way. They'll see the constant wink to prior movies and realize they've seen it before. Non-diehards that know the basic story line will like it more because it has heart, and it's not necessarily a boxing movie. In the end, we all win because Adrian is dead.
--Dan, Providence, R.I.

Went and saw "Rocky Balboa" tonight with a group of five friends. We pretty much all agreed that the first hour of this movie was absolutely awful with some of the worst acting caught on film. However, the last 30-40 minutes were highly entertaining and extremely well done. This got me thinking that the movie should have two start times. There should be the regular time when the movie actually starts and the time when the training scenes begin. They can even rope off a section of seats in the theater for those that only want to see the quality portion of the movie.
--Bret, New York

This movie was a train wreck, start to finish. Seeing Sly's creepy old man muscle was just painful to watch. The first 60 minutes of the film were almost as agonizing as "Rocky III" during Adrian's coma scenes. We get it. You will never feel complete, Sly. Please don't work out your own personal issue with aging by destroying a childhood icon in the process. "Rocky V" achieved that goal already.
--Thomas, Manassas, Va.

I was in your corner for this one at first – big-time "Rocky I" through "Rocky IV" fan. "Rocky V" doesn't exist. Heard this was being made and laughed. Saw and heard the initial positive reviews and got slightly excited. Saw a preview that looked awesome and got more excited. Finally sacked up and saw the movie … and was highly disappointed. It was just … bad. I give it a 4.5 out of 10, and the extra .5 is merely for the great shots of my hometown, Philly. I found the plot centering around the computer simulation to be kind of silly and pointless. Not believable.
--James, Villanova, Pa.

Instead of coming up with an interesting plot, Stallone just made a movie for fans who wanted to feel nostalgic. The same thing happened to him that happens to every other movie and TV show after it becomes huge ("Seinfeld," "The Simpsons," "Friends," "Terminator 3," "Ocean's 12" and now "Rocky Balboa"). They got so big they know everyone is going to be watching them. So instead of sticking to what they do best, they try to cater to the fans by making obvious references to themselves which just kills their identity. The unintentional comedy for "Rocky Balboa" was zero – because all of the comedy was intentional, which just ruins it. It can't be forced. If Stallone was going to make a bad "Rocky" movie, he could have at least put a Survivor track in there. But no. Instead they just added a Three 6 Mafia track to the original soundtrack with bonus tracks from who? You guessed it … Frank Stallone.
--Brian, Hoboken, N.J.

I saw the new Rocky movie on opening night and witnessed a standing ovation as it ended. I joined in, but only because I was happy to get out of the theater.
--Brandon, Medford, Ore.

Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine. His book "Now I Can Die In Peace" is available in paperback.


SPONSORED HEADLINES