Sixteen years after "Rocky V," Sylvester Stallone is back as the legendary boxer. He now owns a restaurant--named after his wife, Adrian, who has died since the last movie--his son (Milo Ventimiglia) is grown up, and Rocky just might re-enter the ring to fight new blood (Antonio Tarver).
Big question: Aren't Rocky and Stallone too old for this?
Catch it: This is a movie about memories, recalled through a man whose fists are now raised only for photo ops and whose stories bring customers into his restaurant. Though it can't help but lunge toward sentimentality, "Rocky Balboa" means well enough that you'll be glad to sit ringside once again.
Skip it: If you don't envy Rocky's nostalgia for a place or time when, "I took some massive beatings down there, but it was nice. Good memories." That is one tough dude.
Bottom line: Some of "Rocky Balboa" seems like an old man being humored, and his friendship with an old acquaintance (Geraldine Hughes) serves little purpose to the film. But the fighter's never been a terribly complex fella--love, family and boxing are all he needs--and thanks to a good, honorable script, "Rocky Balboa" does right by the big lug and proves he's got some fight left in him.
Bonus: Be glad no bars in Chicago share a name with Rocky Jr.'s bar of choice, The Irish Pub. Imagine the confusion!
Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.
Directed and written by Sylvester Stallone; photographed by Clark Mathis; edited by Sean Albertson; production designed by Franco-Giacomo Carbone; music by Bill Conti; produced by Charles Winkler, William Chartoff, David Winkler, Kevin King. A Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Revolution Studios release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:42. MPAA rating: PG (for boxing violence and some language).
Rocky - Sylvester Stallone
Paulie - Burt Young
Mason Dixon - Antonio Tarver
Marie - Geraldine Hughes
Robert Jr. - Milo Ventimiglia
Duke - Tony Burton
Adrian - Talia Shire
Steps - James Francis Kelly III