Monday, October 24, 2005

Warning: Rocky Road Ahead

I wonder sometimes what happened to some of the box office champions of the past few decades.

Just sometimes. Like, for example … on long plane rides while two smelly Indian girls jump around on the seats right in front of me, screaming back and forth at each other and throwing everything they can get their hands on and spitting food and drink over the seat backs onto my laptop … that’s when I'll come up with ANYTHING to think about other than torture, murder, and the “SPLAT!” a small child would make from 36,000 feet.

Not that such a thing would actually happen. Now excuse me for a moment while I grab a towel.

OK, much better. Now where was I? Ahhh, yes, musing on the “Where Are They Now” file of big Hollywood actors.

We know the whereabouts of Arnold Schwarzenegger—he is in California, with a tall, dark-haired beauty on his arm, currently on the edge of his political life. And we know the whereabouts of Tom Cruise—he is in California, with a tall, dark-haired beauty on his arm, currently on the edge of sanity.

But some other big draws of that era seem to be on the ropes in recent years.

Take Harrison Ford, who has not had a substantial movie since the mid-90s. Or Steven Seagal, who has not had a substantial movie since the early 90s. Or Pauly Shore, who has not had a substantial movie. These guys simply do not pack the punch they did back in the day.

Earlier this month, however, we received news about another actor who has not been delivering the knockout blows he used to in Hollywood. And maybe he is desperate, because Sylvester Stallone has signed on for “Rocky VI.”

A few things popped into my head upon hearing this news (as things are wont to do).

For one, consider the “art imitating life” basic plot: The retired Rocky will come out of retirement. Yes, it’s déjà vu all over again. This time, the aging boxer supposedly tries some low-profile matches in Philly but gets sucked into a big-time fight against a reigning champ. Hmmm, so Balboa has a taste of the ring in some small fights and ends up in the big match … right after Stallone got a bit of attention from a boxing TV show and decided to make another Rocky movie. Sounds like (yet another) mid-life crisis for the Italian Stallion—or, I should say, for both of the Italian Stallions.

I also could not help but think about the box office success, or more accurately the lack thereof, that this new film can expect. After all, “Rocky V” only made around $40 million, some $80 million LESS than its predecessor.

Not that US box office receipts always reflect relative quality. As Americans, we live in shame every day that the comically schmaltzy “Titanic” remains our country’s top grossing movie of all time. “The Empire Strikes Back” is the least-grossing film in the “Star Wars” series, and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” brought in more cash than “The Godfather.”

Even so, to put it plainly, neither Stallone nor the Balboa character that excited audiences so much in the 1970s and into the 1980s have the draw they used to.

Then, after these thoughts faded, my mind latched onto something I had overlooked for years. His name is Sylvester. SYLVESTER. The only other celebrity I can think of named Sylvester is the cat from those old TV commercials.

Stallone had better create one hell of a film and fight damn well for a 50+ year old—or else people will start calling this Sylvester a pussy, too.


At October 24, 2005 10:38 PM, Blogger The Phoenix replied to my musings ...

Excellent post, my friend. Well done. I read that too, and I was floored when Stallone signed on for that.

I guess execs are trying to suck that franchise dry.

How about Robin Williams and Tom Hanks? We haven't heard from either of them very much lately.

At October 25, 2005 6:44 AM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Good points! Other than his voice work in "Robots," Robin Williams has not had a substantial film since his triumvirate in 2002: "One Hour Photo," "Death to Smoochy," and "Insomnia."

As far as Tom Hanks goes, I hear that he did something for "The Polar Express," but I stayed away from that one. I remember that "The Terminal" bombed, so that probably takes us back to "Catch Me If You Can" for his last big success.

Hanks does have "the Da Vinci Code" coming out next year--that is, if a lawsuit alleging that Dan Brown stole much of his book from another author does not get in the way of the film's release ...

-- d.a.

At October 25, 2005 1:47 PM, Blogger Dear Jane replied to my musings ...

Maria Shriver...dark haired beauty? How about dark haired skeleton. I don't think she's eaten a real meal since the 1990's. Katie Holmes...edge of sanity? How about a great big leap past it????? Yes, one had better grow up and be a boxer with a name like Sylvester. And one should not blame children for misbehaving on an airplane, rather their parents for not supervising the brats...that reminds me of a good plane ride story I will use for my next post...

At October 25, 2005 2:11 PM, Blogger The Phoenix replied to my musings ...

Bruce Willis really hasn't had a big blockbuster movie either. Hostage was ok at best, as was that weird comic book movie with the title that escapes my mind.

Vin Diesel sort of had the opportunity to be a big action hero star, but had to do that lame GI JOE nanny movie or whatever.

I would pay money to watch Rocky and Clubber Lang have a rematch! "I pity the fool!" Or maybe Rocky and Drago!

At October 25, 2005 8:54 PM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Hi, Jane: Maria Shriver is one of those people who can look great in one picture and look like an etxra from "The Corpse Bride" in another. I try to be kind when I can ... As for the kids, you are soooo right.

Phoenix: You just reminded me of one of the best gag gifts I've seen in recent years--the talking Mr. T keychain that says, "I pity the fool!" and "Quit your jibber-jabber!"

-- d.a.

At October 26, 2005 12:32 AM, Blogger Crazy Dan replied to my musings ...

Bruc Willis was a badass in Sin City. I think the "Rock" is about teh best action star out there right now. At least I enjoyed his shit Doom, Walking Tall, The Rundown, Scorpion King... and he is becoming a better actor with each movie he is not just some seriod freak.

At October 28, 2005 11:51 PM, Blogger ObilonKenobi replied to my musings ...

I think Rocky should die in this one just to put us all out of our misery. Rock I, II and II were good movies. Rocky IV was Rambo and it could have been better. Rocky V was a waste of film stock. The only redemtion for Rocky VI would be for Rocky Balboa to have a career as a ring announcer. What the hell would he be doing in a ring. The guy would have brain damage by now. Leave him be or do it like Million Dollar baby with a twist but don't give us the same cliche underdog plot that he made famous in the first movie. When you become a parody of yourself, it's time to quit. Stalone needs to learn a lesson from some great older actors who learned to grow old gracefully like say Sean Connery.

At October 29, 2005 1:41 PM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Well said. Sean Connery has done some stinkers in the past decade, but he has not stooped to the level of trying to be his old Bond self. Aging with dignity--nice to see.

-- d.a.


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