Wednesday, 27 December 2006
Guest Film Review from Susan Harris
[EDITOR’S NOTE: A couple of months ago, I asked Susan Harris, who blogs at Takoma Gardener and Garden Rant, to review The Boynton Beach Bereavement Club because Portland, Maine, where I now live, doesn’t get many new movies. She did such a good job that she is now the semi-official film reviewer for Time Goes By. Here is her latest.]
GROWING OLD WITH ROCKY BALBOA Honestly, I'd never have seen the latest Rocky movie - in a theater, no less - if Ronni hadn't given me the assignment to review it. Time Goes By readers want to know! So I did the research and here's my TGB take on Rocky Balboa, the 60-year-old Sylvester Stallone's sixth movie in his famous franchise.
Now like everybody in the world, my heartstrings were pulled by the first Rocky, the classic underdog story with the stirring, trumpet-filled theme music. As for the sequels, including this one, not so much.
To me they're just expensive B-movies and not my genre. But guess what? The latest installment has been getting pretty good reviews, with quite a few "knock-outs" and "crowd-pleasers" in the critics' pool of nouns, though I'm more inclined to agree with these characterizations in The New York Times:
"…all heart and no credibility except as a raw-boned fable" and a "live-action cartoon that operates on cartoon logic."
So you should thank me for not explaining the plot. I suppose if I were a boxing fan I might agree with this faint praise in the Chicago Tribune:
"Certainly a bad film, but darn it, it ain't a half-bad movie."
THE EMBARRASSMENT FACTOR
It seems there's been a lot of buzz about Rocky's return engagement after a 16-year absence, fueled by reports of snickering at previews, but there's good news on that front. As one reviewer noted, we see Rocky's sun setting "with enough grace to make us all feel a little apologetic" about having doubts at all. So no cringing at the old guy here.
In fact, just look at the big balooka - he's still ripped! The character refers to having arthritis in the neck and calcium deposits in his legs, but Stallone looks fit as can be. And I like his attitude: "A few too many birthdays shouldn't be a reason not to fight."
Well, that's the problem to my way of thinking. Boxing's such a barbaric sport that it's crazy for anybody to do it, not just the older guys. Here, heroism is defined as how many punches you can take - classic masochism - and I'd prefer a healthier, more positive philosophy and a healthier, more positive sport - like race-walking or cycling or I don't know, rowing? Who cares, as long as it doesn't produce so much blood.
SHOWING YOUR AGEISM?
Like any loyal reader of Time Goes By, I'm on the lookout for ageist attitudes in the media and my perusal of the internet yielded these quotes for your thoughtful examination:
- The Washington Post refers to that "old warhorse, Rocky Balboa. Old is right...He ought to be reaching for his AARP card, not his boxing gloves." Okay, a little yuck.
- From The New York Times: "His body is just this side of muscle-bound and somewhat grotesque." But I think that's about the muscles, not the age of the body.
- Rolling Stone magazine's reaction: "Stallone looks damn fit for a geezer." Another little yuck.
- New York magazine's David Edelstein wrote: "It's not easy to look at Stallone. Whatever he did to his face is starting to become undone; parts of it are frozen while other parts droop." But that's really about plastic surgery - always fair game.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: The Times writer should have done a bit of homework. The drooping is not about plastic surgery or, at least, not all of it. One side of Stallone’s face has always drooped due to a childhood accident or condition; I can’t remember which. – RB]
Frankly, the only part of the movie I enjoyed was seeing Stallone working out in the gym to get stronger and fitter for the big fight. I need to see my peers and especially my elders doing that; it's great motivation.
I say who cares about wrinkles on faces - it's the bodies we can do something about. We now know that women who lift weights and power walk can produce significant changes in their strength and bone density even when they start late in life. Men can do the same and even create Stallone-size muscles, if they make the (silly) choice to take it to that extreme.
Bottom line: I think we can relax about the world's reaction to Rocky Balboa. It's just another underdog movie and age just happens to be what makes him one.
[EDITOR'S POSTSCRIPT: Rocky Balboa has been added to the TGB ElderMovies List along with several other recently-suggested titles which are labeled with a "new" icon.]