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Movie Review

Rocky Balboa

MPAA Rating: PG for boxing violence and some language

Reviewed by: John DeYoung

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Teens Family
Sports Action Drama Sequel
1 hr. 42 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
December 20, 2006 (wide—3,000 theaters)
Copyright, MGM Distribution Company
Copyright, MGM Distribution Company
Copyright, MGM Distribution Company
Copyright, MGM Distribution Company
Copyright, MGM Distribution Company
Copyright, MGM Distribution Company
Copyright, MGM Distribution Company
Copyright, MGM Distribution Company
Relevant Issues
Featuring: Sylvester Stallone, Burt Young, Milo Ventimiglia, Antonio Tarver, Geraldine Hughes
Director: Sylvester Stallone
Producer: Irwin Winkler, Robert Chartoff, Sylvester Stallone
Distributor: MGM Distribution Company

“It ain’t over 'til it’s over.”

“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done. Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you are because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that!” Rocky says to his son in “Rocky Balboa.”

The Italian Stallion is back and better than ever. Sylvester Stallone returns as the fighting Philadelphian and former two-time heavyweight champion of the world, Rocky Balboa. After taking on the likes of Apollo Creed, Clubber Lang, Ivan Drago and Tommy ‘The Machine’ Gunn, Rocky is now a widowed restaurateur. Losing his wife, Adrian, previously portrayed by Talia Shire, to cancer, Rocky names his establishment after her and tells stories of his glory days to customers. However, when a virtual boxing match appears on ESPN pitting Rocky against the current heavyweight champ, Mason ‘The Line’ Dixon, played by former light heavyweight champion, Antonia Tarver, Rocky feels the need to get back in the ring in order to deal with the beast within him.

After being approved for a boxing license, Rocky’s return to the ring is met with some skepticism including from his own son, portrayed by “Heroes” and “Gilmore Girls” star, Milo Ventimiglia. Rocky Jr.’s motives are not for the safety of his 50 something year old father but because he is tired of living under the shadow of his old man. Now with his father stepping in the ring once more, he feels he will never truly make it on his own merits. It is at this point Rocky gives his son the life lecture. His brother-in-law, Paulie, played Rocky alum actor, Burt Young, also felt it was time for Rocky to stop living in the past and go on with his life now that Adrian was gone.

Along with the cynicism, there were some who did support Rocky’s decision to fight again such as Marie, played by Geraldine Hughes, an acquaintance from Rocky’s old neighborhood. She is now a single mother trying to make ends meet with a teenage boy named Steps, played by James Francis Kelly III. Rocky befriends both Marie and her son and helps them out by giving them a job at his restaurant. However, the one person who was most excited about Rocky’s return was Mason’s manager, L.C, played by E! Mysteries and Scandals host, A.J. Benza. The virtual boxing match got people talking which was why L.C. approached the former champ to be a part of an exhibition bout with his champ. It was also a chance to prove to the world that Dixon was no “paper champion.” Rocky accepts the challenge.

Finally with his troops together including his former trainer Duke, played by another Rocky alum, Tony Burton, along with his son, Steps and Paulie, Rocky begins his training to turn him into a human hurting machine, but will it be enough for him to go toe to toe with Dixon, or for that matter, survive the ordeal entirely?

According to Stallone, “Rocky Balboa” is the closing chapter of the Rocky saga. If this is the case, then Stallone ended it wonderfully. Shades of the original Rocky movie were definitely apparent as the emotion and intensity, which were in the original, can also be seen in this final chapter. It was as if Stallone, who wrote and directed this film along with the other Rocky films, was able to recreate the greatness of the original Rocky. As for Stallone’s performance as the aging Balboa, he didn’t miss a step. It was like stepping back in time and seeing the character for the first time all over again. The only difference was “Yo Adrian!” became “No Adrian!” However, the death of his wife storyline, I think, helped make the Rocky character a little more human.

As for the supporting performers, it was hard to decipher what kind of challenger Tarver’s Mason Dixon character was to be. In one moment in the movie, Dixon gets his old trainer back that his manager threw away like an old shoe, then he is talking smack to Rocky. In some ways it was confusing, but in other ways, Stallone came up with an opponent that wasn’t so one dimensional like Mr. T’s animal-like adversary, Clubber Lang in Rocky III or Dolph Lundgren’s unstoppable machine like opponent Ivan Drago in Rocky IV. Dixon was a more complex opponent and more believable.

What was also wonderful about the film was how Stallone incorporated, what I like to call, the faith factor. As part of his corner crew, Rocky brings along “Spider” Rico, portrayed by another former boxer Pedro Lovell, as his spiritual advisor. Before going out to take on Dixon, Rocky is sitting in his dressing room while Rico is reading scripture verses to him. In his restaurant, Rico always gets a free meal from Rocky until he takes it upon himself to start washing dishes for Rocky telling him, “Jesus wants me to work.”

“Rocky Balboa” is a must see. There is some profanity in it, but it doesn’t take away the essence of the movie. It is a story that shows that as long as a person has the fire and the faith, they can take on anything. Stallone said it best, in an interview with Christianity Today Movies. Com, “I just want to show that the heart is the last thing to age in somebody.” On a grading scale, I give “Rocky Balboa!” an A.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: None

Viewer Comments
Comments below:
Positive—Wow!!! What a great film. I heard some early reviews that did grab my attention. This movie was surprisingly very good. There are a few scenes that really show us how life is and how it should be. One was when a friend of Rocky started to question why he was doing nice things for her, and he basically replied that nothing needs to be owed for someone to receive something nice. Too often that is the belief that many people have in today’s world. A great part of it is due to the fact that we as Christians do not always do for others for the sake of loving your neighbor. Many Christians, including myself, are guilty of not doing something for someone because we may feel they didn’t do anything to deserve it or perhaps they did something to get themselves in their situation.

The part that touched me the most was when Rocky spoke to his son who expressed anger from living under the shadow of his father. Rocky told him that this world is not “sunshine and rainbows,” that life will kick you and hurt you and put you down. But what defines us being able to take the blows and continuing to move forward. God gives us strength to handle certain situation, but that doesn’t mean the situation doesn’t hurt to go through. His strength allows us to go through hard times, not to avoid them. It was a beautiful moment in the movie. Overall, this movie was very entertaining and had some good themes. I do recommend it to all adults. The fighting violence makes it unsuitable for small children.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
—Troy Mendez, age 31
Positive—ONE OF THE BEST OF THE YEAR—a must see! This movie was both uplifting and inspiring. Stallone goes back to the roots of the original “Rocky” in both style and pace. If you are a Rocky fan you will not be disappointed. I heard Stallone became a Christian in real life and had a spiritual reawakening from his former Hollywood self and this movie exemplifies this. There are so many subtle and not so subtle Christian messages and themes that I would recommend this movie to any Christian who loves a good underdog story with morals and spirit.

There is no sex and the violence is shown in the ring and in the context of sport. Outside the ring Rocky is a kind, compassionate human being. He exemplifies Christ-like love to his family and friends. The movie actually portrays characters who are Christian in a positive light and actually praying. There is one scene in particular where Rocky’s friend is reading scripture and praying with Rocky before he is going into the ring. Stallone did an excellent job with this script I commend him on not being afraid to display Christianity boldly in a town which bashes Christianity on a regular basis. You will be uplifted and moved a beautiful well crafted story of redemption, hope and second chances.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
—Laura Burns, age 30’s
Positive—This was in my opinion, the best Rocky yet. I’ll admit, when I first heard that they were making another Rocky I was skeptical, but this one was really good. It was actually the most realistic Rocky since the first one, the fight sequences were very good. Rocky didn’t employ his usual “block punches with your face” defense. Real life boxer Antonio Tarver as Mason Dixon did a pretty good job as well. The way they dealt with Rocky’s age, as far as training goes was very well written, you could actually see that happening. And the old neighborhood Rocky is back, running a restaurant named after his late wife Adrian.

This is rated PG and that seems about right, there were a few bad words and some “street” situations but nothing that kids any age can’t watch. My wife and I both enjoyed this a lot. If you are a fan of any Rocky movies, I believe you too will enjoy this as well.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
—Anthony, age 32
Positive—This is a very positive movie and a very appropriate family film for the the holidays. It dwells a lot on past events in the series, though, so if you come into the film without seeing previous installments (particularly the original) you may feel left out in the cold. More than in any other installment in the series, Rocky is an excellent role model here. An aging widower who owns a restaurant, Rocky’s is seen helping out a (presumably) homeless man by allowing him to eat in his restaurant night after night, trying to build a relationship with his son, and investing in the life of another kid who spends lots of time on the street.

Before his big fight, he dwells on a Scripture in Zechariah, about his power not coming by strength and might, but by the power of the spirit. It’s not an explicitly Christian movie, overall, but I thought this was a nice touch.

The movie has 3 or 4 mild profanities. The boxing violence isn’t over the top. I found the film entertaining, though it’s certainly not in the same league as the original or even Rocky 2. Still, its a really positive movie, and I was glad to have seen it.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 4½
—John Smith, age 29
Positive— This is a wonderful, wonderful film. I have been a Rocky fan since I was 10. S. Stallone did not go after the gratuitous violence, sex or vulgarity that Hollywood seems to think you need for movie now a days. He wrapped up Rocky’s life beautifully and addressed social and family issues at the same time. I can’t praise this movie enough. If you haven’t watched the Rocky saga in a while, or ever, do yourself a favor and re-watch them; you will enjoy the film regardless if you don’t. It will bring back a lot of memories. Do yourself a favor and take your family to see this movie!!!
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
—Dean, age 39
Positive—I just returned from seeing “Rocky Balboa” and highly recommend it. This movie has HEART. What makes this movie different from the other “Rocky” movies is that the boxing seems to be a peripheral plotline. The story is really about the character of Rocky and where he is in life at age 60. Sylvester Stallone's writing resonates with the humanity in all of us and his acting was superb. Two scenes in particular were very moving and inspirational to me. One is very emotional, when Rocky tries to share with Paulie what life is like for him without Adrian. The other is a speech that Rocky delivers to his son after the son has lashed out at him for making his life harder, while trying to live in his shadow. I will go out on a limb and say that Sylvester Stallone turned in an Oscar-worthy performance. If you are a Rocky fan, this is a must see, a worthy and fitting movie that brings Rocky full-circle. Be sure to stay for the ending credits to see extra footage.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
—Dana, age 50
Positive—I went to see this movie with my husband because we are always looking for nice clean movies for our family to enjoy. I was very impressed with the wholesome content of the movie. The boxing in the movie was not graphic. It was done with taste, and we really appreciated that. I would recommend this movie to families and youth 10 and older.
My Ratings: Good / 4
—Sheronda McDonald, age 33
Positive—Wonderful Movie! My wife and I and another couple went to see “Rocky Balboa” and were all pleasantly surprised. I have enjoyed all of the Rocky movies, other than Rocky 5. This one reminded me of the first Rocky. It was more of a story about heart and getting up when life knocks you down. It did not have some of the silliness we saw in Rocky 3 and 4. My favorite part was still the training and the fight, but this was actually a small part of the film. The story leading up to the fight was well put together. The movie was also very clean with only a couple of curse words.
My Ratings: Good / 4½
—Brad, age 35
Positive—This is definitely the best Rocky movie of them all. Hats off to Stallone! For parents, be aware there is some crude language in the film, words like a_ s and p_ _ s off. If you don’t want children to hear these words, keep them away from this movie. The profanity never gets excessive or extreme. There is also a situation involving Rocky and Marie, a younger woman he knew years ago. This could have definitely become sexual, as it does in many movies, but that doesn’t happen here—Stallone took the high road and keeps the relationship as a special friendship, displaying respect on both the part of Rocky and Marie. Hooray for this!!

There is also a Scripture read before the big fight, and Rocky displays his faith by praying before the gloves begin landing blows. All in all, it is a clean movie, boys would love it, and I believe they would get inspiration from it and some good messages about friendship, respect and love between father and son, and Rocky’s devotion to his deceased wife. I give the movie a ‘10’ and highly recommend it.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 5
—Maggie, age 59
Positive—This is a positive and uplifting movie that can stand on its own merit, unlike the previous “Rocky” sequels (which were all varying degrees of “bad,” in my opinion). “Rocky” exemplifies many of the traits that we are supposed to exhibit as Christians; namely, compassion, courage, humility, perseverance and respect for others. One example from the movie is Rocky’s treatment of an old, destitute fighter named “Spider” Rico (a recurring character from the first “Rocky”).

Rocky makes sure that the guy has a hot meal free of charge every night at his restaurant. Before the climactic fight scene, Spider reads Rocky a passage from Zechariah 4:6, “It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty.”

The movie is rated PG for one instance of profanity and the boxing scene (remember, boxing is a violent sport), but this is a movie that should be fine for the entire family. In an age where the typical Hollywood blockbuster depends on gratuitous sex, violence and profanity, this movie is a breath of fresh air.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
—Brett Clark, age 46
Positive—I have seen all the Rocky movies, and I must say this one is quite good. At first, I thought, “Oh no, not another Rocky movie.” But what I really liked about this film was the overall message. It was really about perseverance and not giving up. His speech to his son in the movie was really inspiring.
My Ratings: Good / 4
—Scott, age 33
Positive—My wife and I went out and saw “Rocky Balboa” last night, and I really liked it. In fact, I’d say it’s the second best of all the “Rocky” movies. There’s just no topping the first “Rocky” movie, which won an Academy Award for Best Picture 30 years ago. When I first heard Sylvester Stallone was going to do another Rocky movie, 30 years after the first one, I was almost embarrassed for him. It seemed awfully silly for a 60-year-old man to attempt to play a professional boxer. But as it turns out, my concerns were completely unfounded. Not only does “Rocky Balboa” end the Rocky series with dignity—it also brings Jesus Christ into the mix. Stallone, who has long been a self-described “lapsed Catholic” has apparently had an encounter with Christ. And it shows in this movie.

For instance, Scripture is subtly worked into the movie’s dialogue several times. It’s so subtle, I would have probably missed it, had I not heard of the movie’s “Christian overtones” in advance. We also see “Spider Rico” reading Scripture to Rocky before his big fight. You may remember Spider Rico getting beat up by Rocky in the opening scene of the very first Rocky movie. It was neat to see him, now 30 years older, in the last Rocky movie. more »
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
—Jeff Consiglio, age 41
Neutral—“Rocky Balboa” (aka Rocky 6) punches its way into the theaters after a 16 year hiatus from the previous installment. It’s like the Rocky franchise still has a little “something in the basement.” Or was it “stuff in the basement”? No matter… Rocky’s back, and this time, he’s kicking butt. Or punching face… whichever you prefer. The bottom line is Stallone reprises the role of Rocky Balboa in yet another Rocky installment.

I love the Rocky movies; I am a proud owner of Rocky 1-5. The last Rocky film was a letdown; the newest flick is a step up. A big step up. It’s charming, often times funny and amusing. Rocky (despite the extended period of being AWOL from the silver screen) hasn’t lost an ounce of his funny, almost kid-like humor, and if anything, he’s enriched with it. You see, and unfortunately, Rocky 6 is rife with some campy dialogue that kind of says a lot without conveying much. It is these much-appreciated Balboa one-liners that redeems the aforementioned. more »
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
—Jacob Keenum, age 20
Negative—We only watched the first 20 maybe 30 minutes of the movie. We had to get up and walk out, it was so full of profanity, I was very angry because I had all 3 of my children with me and plus I don’t want to hear that kind of language either. I would estimate that we heard 8 BAD words and as we were trying to get out of our seats to leave they said 3 or so more. I can’t and don’t understand why the profanity rating has mild beside it. That is simply not the truth, not in my eyes. Parents beware!
My Ratings: Offensive / 3½
—Melissa, age 33
Negative—This film is not good for any Christian to see. It uses the Lord’s name in vain and many other curse words. We walked out soon after it started.
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 1
—Melody, age 29
Comments from young people
Negative—To start I’m not a huge rocky fan except for 4 with the Russian. Otherwise the Rocky movies take too long getting to the fights. I waited and waited for the movie to end. Everything was wrong with this movie including him kissing a girl he knew when she was 10 and he was 40 or whatever. Weird! Anyway if your a Rocky fan you’ll love if your not you won’t. Plain and simple.
My Ratings: Average / 2½
—Nick Riportella, age 16
Negative—I have never seen Rocky 1-5 before but I heard that this one was one of the best if not the best in the series. Well, if this one was the best than the rest of the series must’ve been really bad. First of all, I do really love sports dramas, but I feel that Rocky just didn’t deliver. The acting seemed artificial, the plot was average, and the drama just wasn’t there. Also, there was only one fight towards the end and it seemed long and drawn out. As a matter of fact, the entire movie felt long and drawn out.

From a moral view, there was some profanity and this is definitely not a movie for the family to see because most of it is hard for younger kids to understand. My recommendation is to skip this one just because of how boring it is. And, just a side note, they never once played “Eye of the Tiger,” which I was looking forward to.
My Ratings: Average / 2
—Joel Dugard, age 14
Positive—This one of the best movies in the Rocky series. I have been a die hard Rocky fan for years, and, although I wasn’t even alive to see films 1-5, but I have watched them over and over again for two years, and these films, especially the first Rocky is/are one of the best movie/s/movie series of all time. I love these movies. They send a message that is important in life to all the underdogs out there. These movies tell you to have faith in yourself.

I don’t know I am an addict, and these movies and have passion for them, and I want to see these movie locations when I grow older. Anyway, I have an emotional connection with these movies. They’re so inspiring, harm-warming, touching, moving, and are so amazing. Like, I want to be Rocky, and I feel for these characters when they have ups and downs like I’m Rocky or like I’m in their life. I have emotions for these characters, for instance… when Mickey Goldmill (Rocky’s boxing trainer, mentor, and friend. (Basically like a 2nd father to him) dies in Rocky 3. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Michael Losauro, age 15 (USA)