Rocky Balboa coulda been a contender! The Rock coulda been the champ again!
But Sly Stallone took the simple easy way out for Rocky to say his farewell and Mickey Rourke stole the old pug's thunder with a rousing performance as Randy the Ram in The Wrestler.
Rourke is nominated for an Oscar. Stallone is musing butchering Edgar Allan Poe in a Bio Pic called Yo! Yo! Poe.
Rourke and Stallone were both eighties cinema stars. Rourke, while a much better actor, never had the mega hits that Stallone had with the Rocky and Rambo franchises. But both actor's careers have faded badly in the past two decades.
Rourke has revived his as fading, suffering, broken down eighties Pro Wrestling king, Randy The Ram, who is looking to climb to the top rope one last time, because the top rope is where its at for him.
Actually, the old wrestler realizes its the only place for him. Randy the Ram wants one more glorious taste of the only place that ever made him whole and happy.
And the faded Ram doesn't care what the butchers bill will be on his collapsing body as long as he has one more stab at glory one note of Sweet Child of Mine. Faded glory is better then no glory as many pro athletes will attest to.
Randy Ram is a glorious, aging wreck of a once wondrous fun house of a man. The Ram wanders the crumbling, collapsing Jersey shore showing his estranged daughter the old great haunted fun house, the one place they had fun together in her childhood.
It's a wonderful scene one envision this crumbling, haunted house of a man trying desperately to rebuild the fun house that was his long gone glorious youth.
Jersey icon Bruce Springsteen sings the final sad song, "The Wrestler", and it is a worthy sequel to Glory Days. But Bruce could have been serenading Balboa.
That haunted house should have been Rocky Balboa's.
Stallone finished his final Rocky epic, which became completely clownish after Clubber Lane, with the usual cliched Rah! Rah! Rah! Rocky ending.
If Sly would have run Rocky a darker route his finale might have been under Oscar nights glittering gold lights. What if Rocky 's swan song would have been a realistic one? A look at down and out broken souled boxers? Complete with shaking limbs, glazed eyes, battered brains and no income?
What if it had been colored with the bitter, grim endings of Joe Louis or Sonny Liston? What if Sly would have show a broken in body and brain Rocky shuffling, shaking slowly around South Philadelphia used as a side show to some second rate mobsters and smirking, suburban yuppies?
What if Rocky had been shaking hands at the Blue Horizon, like Joe Louis did in Detroit and Vegas, for beer, food, and chump change? What if instead of the trite Hollywood ending Stallone had gone dark and shown the harsh, ugly reality many boxers, even the great ones, face? No health insurance, no pension, no job prospects, broke both in body and in mind.
Maybe a desperate Rock doing some dark things in dire circumstances would have made the old, broken pug a deeper character instead of a common caricature.
Would that unhappy Rocky have won Sly respect and an Oscar? If Rocky checked out not in the cliched, unrealistic ring comeback way but instead died in a cheap hotel or in a run down hospital would America have cheered?
No, of course not but that flick might have made a difference to broken down boxers and maybe won Stallone some Oscar gold.
But Randy the Ram stole Rocky's gold and even his broken down Philadelphia and Jersey scenery. Randy the Ram robbed Rocky's fun-house but at least he did it in an Oscar worthy way.
Stallone? He chose to go to Burma instead to make yet another silly Rambo movie. But in Burma real bullets were flying and the Rocky Rambo man fled. Not that I blame for that but I wonder if Sly watches the Wrestler and considers what Rocky's swan song could have been? What it should have been?
And lets hope when Yo! Yo! Yo! Ed Poe! is released Stallone doesn't make it a rah! rah! rah! Rocky ending. In real life everyone stays down when the final bell rings, age and injury, and in Poe's case, like many boxers, substance abuse and mental illness take their terrible toll.
Old Poe went down hard and early and did not get up, and few cheered as he lay dying, drunk and delusional on a dark, dirty side street in Baltimore. No one there knew who Poe was until it was too late.
If Stallone would have put a dash of Poe in Rocky's farewell that movie might not have been forgettable. No that Rocky-Ram-Poe that flick might have been famous.