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.