Unless I’m much mistaken it is now December and therefore it must be time for The Fifth Annual James Proclaims Advent Calendar of Christmas(ish) Films.
We kick off this year’s festive countdown with a movie from the Rocky franchise. This is the third time a Rocky movie has featured in my annual advent calendar with Rocky IV making the cut for Door 19 of the inaugural 2017 edition and the original Rocky movie making it’s long overdue appearance behind door 22 of last year’s incarnation.
But whereas both of those movies are beloved by fans of the franchise (Rocky for being a good movie and Rocky IV for being so bad it’s not only good, it’s actually iconic) this year’s entry enjoys rather less acclaim. Indeed most would say it is the worst movie in the series. Which is quite an achievement for a movie franchise that has always oscillated between the sublime and the ridiculous.
Arguably Rocky V is slightly less ridiculous than Rocky IV, but unlike its immediate predecessor, it does not embrace its ridiculousness. It tries, somewhat in vain, to be a more grounded movie and loses any charm it might have had in the process. It’s all a bit depressing without being remotely worthy and in many ways it was a sad way for what was an eminently enjoyable series of movies to go out on. It would take another sixteen years for Stallone to right this particular wrong, with the much more enjoyable Rocky Balboa and these days the franchise is once again in rude health thanks to the excellent Creed movies.
Rocky V is unquestionably a poor movie, with a weak narrative and by far the least interesting antagonist of the series but it is still a Rocky movie and so I will always find it hard to hate it. Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire and Burt Young are as reliable in this as they are in any of the other movies and there is enough ‘Rockyness’ to make it enjoyable in patches. But this is really only one for completists.
Score for Christmasishness
The denouement of the movie is set around Christmas time and there is a fairly lengthy scene on Christmas day. It is, admittedly, a fairly ‘unmerry’ Christmas and that’s before Paulie (Young) appears dressed as the one of the most cheerless Santas in cinematic history. But even a miserable Santa means the movie has to be considered a bit Christmas(ish). Also it seems as if the final ‘fight’ takes place on New Year’s Day, but it’s hard to be certain.