Go, Rocky! Go! Go! GO!!!!


The original Rocky is one of my favorite films. And until Rocky Balboa, it was in fact the only Rocky film. The other ones were merely movies. Where the original showed enough artistic merit to win the 1976 Best Picture Oscar (over Taxi Driver, of all things), the others were simply blockbuster popcorn flicks. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Rocky II is airing on Spike TV at this very moment, and I’m glad to have tuned in in time to catch my favorite scene of the movie, and indeed of the entire franchise: the training montage. It’s been cited as the moment at which the franchise stopped being films and became simply movies (or, to be less kind, cinematic monuments to Sylvester Stallone’s own ego). As Rocky runs through the streets of Philadelphia, more and more children fall into line running behind him until he’s being followed by literally hundreds of children. Watch for the flags lining the streets, which drive home the idea that a virtual United Nations of children is running at his heels. Every kid in Philadelphia is seemingly there, as though if you looked closely enough, you might see a young DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, Boyz II Men, the band Marah, and Extreme Championship Wrestling’s Sandman and Stevie Richards all tearing ass up the steps to the Philadelphia Museum of Art behind him. I can’t watch this scene without tears in my eyes, partly because it’s the epitome of the inspirational Rocky training montage, but mostly because it’s so over-the-top and ridiculous that it makes me laugh my guts out until I feel like I’m going to throw up.

P.S. From the “Clunky Exposition’ department, I’m watching Rocky III right now, and in the scene where Apollo helps Rocky regain the “eye of the tiger” by taking him back to where Apollo got started, just when you might be wondering which city they’ve gone to, Paulie waits until they pull up to Apollo’s old, run-down gym and everyone gets out of the taxi before asking, “What the hell are we doing here in LA?” It apparently never occurred to him to ask this during the flight or when Apollo fanned out four plane tickets in front of him, Rocky, and Adrian. And by the way, only the four of them get out of the taxi and go into the gym, but when they get there, Apollo’s trainer Duke is also there. Poor Duke. Apollo was like a son to him, but he still didn’t get to ride in the cab.

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