Rocky II

Thursday, July 31, 2008

If there's one thing America loves, it's a sequel. It's more American than apple pie and shooting up a church with an assault rifle. And so therefore, despite Apollo Creed's statement to Rocky in the first film that there wouldn't be a rematch, and contrary to Rocky's assertion that he didn't want one, you knew it had to happen.

Although, to be fair, Rocky does do his best to avoid getting back in the ring. He tries to capitalise on his fame and make some money through advertising. Cue some amusing scenes where the mumbling, illiterate Rocky tries and fails to read writing from dummy cards as he attempts to sell crappy 70s cologne that you know smells about as good as monkey piss. But I guess it doesn't help that Rocky has to do this while being berated by an effete, beret-wearing director and while dressed as a caveman. He looks like a gay Barney Rubble. "In the morning I splash it on and it makes me smeel manly." Even while being unable to read the word 'smell', Rocky knows he's spewing lies.

After this failure to crack the entertainment world, Rocky decides he can make it as an office worker...even though he has no qualifications, no experience and no brains that we know of. He just wants a job where he can sit down and no longer be pounded repeatedly in the face. It's not much to ask. But unfortunately Rocky gets turned down by every employer, who are no doubt not only horrified by Rocky's lack of credentials but by his hideous light blue suit as well.

After this, Rocky gets a job at a meat plant. It falls a long way short of Rocky's aspirations, but he needs the money, seeing as he's knocked up Adrian. You see how you've debased this great fighter, woman? He has to carry lumps of raw meat around to pay the mortgage and to provide for his family.

Although it has to be said that Adrian makes sacrifices, too - she has to go back to the pet store she worked at, seeing as fuckwit Rocky bought a house he couldn't really afford and they need to pay the mortgage. Times are hard.

But the early scenes where Rocky thinks he'll be living a life of plenty are hilarious. We see Rocky spending money on pure shit that he thinks is the dog's bollocks. He buys horrible gold watches, a hideous jacket with a tiger on the back, a dog collar that he puts around his wrist (you can almost see Adrian vomit in her mouth at the sight of it) and a car that he can't drive. And he then buys a house, mumbling like an idiot all the way through the showing. 'I like this mailbox. These numbers almost add up to nine. I like that. That's a good omen.' Ah, Rocky. You fucking imbecile.

But Rocky's also loveable. He asks Adrian to marry him while they visit the zoo. He proposes by asking whether she's doing anything for the next 30 or 40 years. Awww. And then when they get married, one of Rocky's pals asks him whether he wants to invest in condominiums. Rocky replies that he never uses them. (Get it?!?)

However, this condom-ignorance leads to Adrian's pregnancy. And what a world it was back in the 70s when men were men and they waited patiently outside at the doctors while their spouse was told whether they were knocked up. None of this being told together crap. None of this sharing malarkey. We're pregnant? No Adrian, you're pregnant. You're the one who's got something gestating inside you.

But the gender issues exhibited in the film are another source of hilarity. Adrian is appalled at the idea of Rocky getting back in the ring, so Rocky comes out with this nugget: 'I never asked you to stop being a woman, so please don't ask me to stop being a man.' Me man. Me club. Me beat. You woman. You wash dishes.

But what's up with these damn women? This Adrian bird tries to domesticate Rocky. She tries to protect him and she encourages him to get a decent job. But Rocky fails and makes a fool of himself. Damn Adrian has cut his nuts off! Not long ago Rocky was standing toe to toe with the champion of the world. The next thing you know he's collecting spit buckets. And worse than that, he's meant to be happy about it. But eventually Rocky breaks. He realises that he was meant to fight. That's what he does best.

But what about Apollo's motivation for getting back in the ring? Well, his problems are different. Thankfully he has a wife who, most of the time, shuts the fuck up and does what she's told, but unfortunately he has people berating him for his performance against Rocky. Even from people as far away as London. One person sends him the following letter: 'You call yourself the champ? You're a fake. The fight was a fake. Go kill yourself.' I don't know about you, but I personally think that's the best letter in the history of the world. In four pithy lines it says everything that needs to be said. There's not one wasted word.

Although, like Rocky, Apollo occasionally has to put up with the wisdom of the missus. She asks him why he can't just ignore it. She asks him why he doesn't just play with his children. Shut up woman! Don't you know what it's like to be a man? Why would you want to play Hungry Hungry Hippos with your kids when you could beat the shit out of another man for loads of money?

One of the funniest scenes in the film is right at the beginning. Apollo berates Rocky from a wheelchair at the hospital. Okay, it doesn't sound so great on paper. But when you consider the fact that every other word from Apollo's lips is 'chump', it suddenly achieves greatness.

But even at this early point in the film, Mickey knows the score. He knows Rocky needs to fight. But the road to Rocky's epiphany is mighty long. We even have to suffer through a pregnancy scare which saps Rocky's motivation. Rather than train he sits with his wife and reads poetry. And schmuck that I am, I found Rocky's reading rather sweet. Goddammit, the first film is a fairy tale and this one is a soap opera.

But eventually the inconsiderate Adrian wakes from her coma and tells Rocky to win. It's an incredibly hokey moment, but that's what Rocky is all about. Therefore, if you're anything like me, you end up grinning like a loon and almost start clapping in your seat.

Apparently, in order to beat Apollo, Rocky needs to get speed. But not just regular speed. He needs demon speed. That's the speed he needs. Greasy fast speed. And in order to do this he needs to chase a chicken (?!?). Cue Mickey berating him when he can't catch it and yelps of joy (with a chicken feather behind the trainer's ear no less) when he finally does. It's here that you can see reality floating away into the distance. But it's bliss.

I particularly enjoy the way that Rocky hammers scrap metal in order to train. Quite what the point of this is other than to look really cool, I'm not sure, but it works. And then rather than run anonymously through the streets like he used to, Rocky is now chased by loads of children. In order to impress them he hurdles benches and then sprints really fast, leaving everyone in his wake except for one fat blighter who manages to stay with him for a nanosecond. But being the nice bloke that he is, he lets them catch up for the shadow boxing at the top of the steps that lead to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Instead of a solitary moment of joy to celebrate a small personal achievement, it's now a collective celebration of a future asskicking.

The fight here is even further removed from reality than the first film. The boxers pummel each other constantly and there's no sign of them guarding or trying to defend themselves. But on the plus side, Apollo calls Rocky 'chump' after knocking him to the mat, so it's all good.

The silliest part of the fight is when Rocky and Apollo stand toe to toe in the final round and just tiredly begin punching each other in the face. One after the other they tiredly throw and land head shots, and yet they still take it. But then Rocky begins hitting Creed in the gut, so hard by the way, that he's almost lifted from his feet, and then finally the Italian Stallion floors the champion. However, Rocky goes down too. From here it's a race for both characters to get to their feet. It's something that I've never seen in boxing, and to be honest it stretches the final shred of credibility that the film has, but nevertheless it's a great moment when Rocky stands up and wins. It just goes to show that when you ignore the advice of your wife, you can achieve great things.

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  1. great film, stupid review.

  2. I was wonderin' if, uh, you wouldn't mind marryin' me very much.

  3. When did adrian lose her virginity? I thought it was the wedding night. And the condom thing did that mean he didn’t care if he knocked her up