Monday, January 08, 2007

Rocky evening planned - updated

Yo! I'm going to try to see Rocky Balboa tonight. I'm pretty excited about it, and will give my impressions later tonight, and promise not to spoil it if you've not yet seen it. Commenters, please try to do the same. Later!
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Rocky has become part of Americana, an icon in the minds and hearts of those old enough to remember him. I remember seeing the first Rocky as a kid, and spent a couple of hours after that shadowboxing to the theme playing in my mind, and reliving the moments in the spotlight of the great American underdog. The feelings of affection and love for the Rocky character waned only slightly through II, III, and IV. It was because of those feelings that I never saw Rocky V, and still have not, to this day. I understand it was awful!

I went to see my nephew Josh perform in a concert for the first time (he was good), and was fortunate enough to ride over with my mother, and here's how I explained Rocky to her:
Rocky is basically an inspirational love story wrapped in boxing mythology, the story of a fighter who actually believes everything that's been said about him, that he's a "bum." He meets a woman (Adrian) who has many of the same traits, a low self-esteem that represses the beautiful, caring person inside. When the fictional heavy weight champion of the day, Apollo Creed, decides to give a "nobody" a chance at the title, Rocky fits the bill perfectly. He not only survives the first bout, which he loses, he eventually becomes a "people's champion," winning the title, retiring, then winning it again. In the course of this, Rocky never loses the basic goodness inside of him. He remains trusting, gullible, loyal, and generous to a fault. He and Adrian believe in one another, and the crucible of his transformation from bum to champion is paralleled by Adrian's transformation into a confident, though humble, supporting mother and wife who never stops believing in her husband. We should all have marriages like that! The other great relationship in the first Rocky movies was Micky, his crochety trainer, whose plainspoken bluntness belies a love for his charge that only comes from men who've been through hell and back together.

Rocky Balboa picks up thirty years or so later, when Rocky has long retired from the fight game, and is living near his old neighborhood. Rocky grieves for the loss of his wife, has a strained relationship with his son (now grown), and spends his days reliving the memories of his glory. That all changes when the current champion, Mason 'the Line' Dixon, played by Antonio Tarver, languishes in a heavyweight division devoid of worthy competitors. Dixon suffers from being too good for his own good, and the public has grown weary of watching him execute his challengers via knockout in a round or two. What Dixon needs is a real challenge to capture the public's imagination, and give him a legacy. Enter the washed up Rocky.

Overall, it was an warm emotional journey for me. Rocky Balboa took me back to the roots of what made Rocky so great: his vulnerability and kindness. The underdog comes back for one more. I'd go see it again, and recommend you do the same. Thanks!


John Vesia said...

You have to admit - for a guy who's 60, he's still in good shape.

Nathan Teodoro said...

I'd love to be in that kind of shape at 40 (next year)! I agree completely.