Rocky IV (1985)

He’s Not a Machine, He’s a Man!

I was excited to finally reach this sequel in the Rocky franchise, mainly because I work with the guy that played the opponent in this movie.  I know that many of the people around my place of business claim that his name is Tim, but I am 100% positive that he’s actually Ivan Drago.  When I think of the Rocky franchise, this is often the movie that I immediately go to in my mind.  It’s nowhere near the best movie in the series, but something about this movie makes me regard it as the pinnacle of the series.  Let’s see if I’m able to put the reason into words in my review of Rocky IV, written, directed by, and starring Sylvester Stallone, and also starring Dolph Lundgren, Carl Weathers, Talia Shire, Brigitte Nielsen, Michael Pataki, Tony Burton, Burt Young, Dominic Barto, Rocky Krakoff, Sylvia Meals, and James Brown.

A gigantic Soviet boxer named Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) arrives in America with his wife Ludmilla (Brigitte Nielsen), his manager Nicolai Koloff (Michael Pataki), and an idea to prove himself as the best boxer ever.  Retired former champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) gets it in his head that he should challenge Drago to an exhibition match to prove that he’s not over the hill.  His old friend and twice rival Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) and his wife Adrian (Talia Shire) try to talk Apollo out of it, but he’s got something to prove.  And what is that?  That he is so stupid that he’ll refuse to let someone stop the fight that he’s clearly losing so that it will result in him being beaten to death in the ring.  You did it, Apollo!  Not to be outdone on the stupid front, Rocky challenges Ivan to a fight in the USSR.  I assume that, if Rocky wins, Apollo will come back to life.  Otherwise what’s the point?

I would say this movie is probably the best example of why women don’t seem that interested in watching the first Rocky movie.  It’s incredibly cheesy in parts and the motivation for the entire movie is testosterone.  It exemplifies the things that I hate about those kinds of testosterone driven men.  “I’m rich and happily married and have no reason to ever work again, but I’m going to fight a giant until he kills me because I don’t want people to think I’m over the hill.”  “I’m clearly not doing anything in this fight and, in fact, am getting killed, but don’t you dare throw in the towel because being bludgeoned to death by a gigantic Russian and leaving my wife a grieving widow is preferable to losing a fight and being called washed up.”  “I too am rich and happily married and have no reason to ever work again, but I will fight the giant that just murdered my friend with punches because … well … he murdered my friend with punches.  And I don’t want to get paid for it either.”  If this is the kind of intelligence that testosterone allows, I’m going to stop taking those injections and tell the doctor to give me my vagina back.  Speaking of stupid, what the fuck was with the robot in this movie?  Rocky gives a 6 foot robot to Paulie as a gift.  It gets like a half hour of screen time in this movie!  It’s a major plot point somehow!  As mentioned with the other movies, this movie definitely follows the classic Rocky pattern.  Something happens, Rocky gets depressed, Rocky trains really hard, Rocky triumphs.  The training montage made me laugh too, mainly because Rocky’s method of “training” would be what all the people around him in Russia would call “chores”, and Drago was training on the deck of the Enterprise.  Rocky’s little speech at the end was pretty bad and stupid as well.  I understand that Stallone probably wanted to bring about change in what was probably some tension between America and the Soviet Union (I’ll have to assume because I was two when this movie came out), but I feel pretty confident that a boxer punching one of their boxers and making a hair-brained speech afterwards would not change foreign policies.  Especially when his big speech is, “If I can change, and you can change, everybody can change.”  Depending on how loosely you define “you”, then yeah, that’s basically the definition of “everybody”.

I mentioned one of the greatest things that the Rocky series had introduced me to in the previous movie when I mentioned that they brought the Survivor song “Eye of the Tiger” to the limelight.  I have a certain appreciation for cheesy 80’s music that gets you amped up, and this movie threw three new ones at us.  “No Easy Way Out” is another kick ass song, an equal to “Eye of the Tiger” in my opinion.  It would’ve been nice if the song wasn’t used over a really bad montage of filler, though.  All of those scenes had nothing to do with each other, and I’m not sure what they were trying to say with the montage.  It was just like, “What scenes were cool from the other three movies and even the beginning of this one?  SMASH THEM TOGETHER!!”  Survivor didn’t want to be left out of the cheese so they threw “Burning Heart” into the movie.  I would say the cheesiest one was “Hearts on Fire”, but I still enjoyed it.

This movie continues the trend started in the previous movie of changing all the characters.  Rocky became well-spoken, Adrian was no longer shy, and Mickey was no longer into breathing.  In this movie, they even changed Paulie.  All of the earlier movies had Burt Young playing the role of a very unlikeable person that Rocky kept around for reasons that were never explained.  He was always jealous of Rocky’s success, but was himself a complete loser with no likeable qualities.  He’s still not likeable, but he’s become more like comic relief in this movie.  Dolph Lundgren did fine as Ivan Drago, but didn’t have to do very much beyond being physically intimidating and force out a couple of words like, “If he dies, he dies,” and, “I will break him.”  I was also surprised to see Brigitte Nielsen and Michael Pataki in this movie.  Michael Pataki surprised me because I hadn’t put together that the guy from Sidehackers and The Baby was his manager until this viewing.  I knew Brigitte Nielsen was in this movie, but I was surprised to find that she actually used to be attractive, whereas now she looks like a Barbie doll that got left in the microwave.

Rocky IV is super cheesy, but not without a certain degree of enjoyment.  The story follows the same pattern as the rest of the Rocky movies, but this time with a Russian and a dumb speech that shows the world that we can all change, but only if a punch drunk goon tells us to.  The writing is dumb and predictable, and this one is exactly the testosterone driven dumbness that some people wrongly expect from the original, but it’s still kind of fun in a campy way.  And it has the most memorable opponent of the Rocky series in it, so you have to watch it.  Rocky IV gets “Whatever he hits, he destroys” out of “You will lose.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

The Baby (1973)

God Sam-nit!

Though I have no memory of it, I can only assume that I lit Samrizon’s car on fire and punched her in the stomach, because she decided I needed to be punished for something.  She could have been more overt about the punishment and attacked me with a skillet, but Samrizon was more diabolical than that.  Instead, she suggested a movie and told me nothing more than that.  I was able to find the movie on Netflix streaming, so it was an easy request to grant.  I was so naïve.  So let’s talk about The Baby, written by Abe Polsky, directed by Ted Post, and starring Anjanette Comer, Ruth Roman, Marianna Hill, Suzanne Zenor, David Mooney, Michael Pataki, and Beatrice Manley Blau.

Ann Gentry (Anjanette Comer) is a social worker who gets involved with a strange case.  The Wadsworth family – mother (Ruth Roman), and daughters Germaine (Marianna Hill) and Alba (Suzanne Zenor) – have a mentally impaired person in the family named “Baby” (David Mooney), who is physically in his twenties but acts like an infant.  Ann gets to thinking (and is correct) about the family mistreating Baby to make him stay at his current age mentally, but she can’t prove it.  When she starts taking a little too much interest in Baby, the Wadsworth family decides they need to do something about it.

Whatever I did, Samrizon, I am truly, truly sorry.  Can I never have to watch a movie like this again?  Okay, this movie is pretty bad.  Admittedly, I’ve seen worse, but not very many.  I’ve retained no particular love of old movies, campy movies, or cult movies.  They get no particular love from this reviewer.  Not only does this movie suck, it’s really creepy and unsettling.  Knowing that the movie was a horror movie and seeing that its main character is a retarded man-child, I figured it would end up being a story about the family trying to hide the fact that the man-child would occasionally kill people.  They didn’t go that way.  They went with the family trying to keep the man-child as a perpetual baby and killing anyone that got in the way of that.  But since them trying to kill only came up once in the movie, it wasn’t even much of a horror movie.  It seemed like the writer just found out about retarded people and decided that was reason enough to make a movie.  But he went overboard, making every character in the movie retarded to some extent.  Ann’s boss says that it’s common for people to just disappear off the face of the Earth.  Ann herself wants to take Baby for herself.  One of Baby’s sisters fucks Baby.  In fact, it seems like almost everybody that crosses Baby’s path wants to fuck that retarded man-child.  I’ve been going about meeting women the wrong way!  I need to see if I can get my mom involved in this so that I can bang some social workers by acting like a baby and doing some heavy duty work in a pair of diapers.  And, just so you know, it’s okay for me to use the term “retarded” because this movie showed me that it was not only an acceptable moniker for the mentally challenged, but the proper term for it.  You get the idea of the movie pretty quickly, but it’s still going to drag on and on until it’s unsatisfying conclusion.  They drag on the ending with nothing going on to build up tension that’s not there until they reach the final fight that is laughably bad and ends stupidly.  Also, ::SPOILER ALERT:: how the Hell would the people that are making Ann’s pool not stumble upon the three dead bodies poorly buried with three inches of dirt on top of them as they finished the pool?  ::END SPOILERS::  The look of the movie is excusably poor (it is ten years my senior, after all), but the music is inexcusably awful.  Parts where the music should be trying to build tension sounds like Benny Hill music, and the rest of it is just annoying.

My motto for horror movies like this one would be, “If you’re going to suck at acting, the least you could do is be nice to look at.”  Unfortunately, I was at least 15 years away from being able to explain that motto to the people of this movie.  Not a single person in the cast made me want to look at them.  For instance, Anjanette Comer looked like she was about 20 years older than she was trying to portray.  And it also might have helped if they tried a little bit harder to cover up the cold sore that was on her lip for the entire movie.  Ruth Roman seemed like she’d be better equipped to be telling Johnny Fugazi to break some mamaluke’s kneecaps in a mafia movie.  Marianna Hill had the most 80’s hair that ever existed.  I thought she was Jon Bon Jovi for most of the movie.  There’s a chance that she wasn’t actually him though.  Suzanne Zenor was the closest thing to an attractive woman in this movie, so I found myself watching her out of desperation.  In the land of the homely, the slightly attractive are queen.  David Mooney did … something.  I don’t know what, but he did the shit out of it.  I guess he acted like a retarded baby.  Is that a compliment?  I also found myself fascinated with Michael Pataki.  He wasn’t in the movie very long, but I was able to figure out that I knew him from watching the Mystery Science Theater 3000 presentation of another shitty movie called The Sidehackers.  I found him unintentionally funny, mainly because he kept walking around smoking a joint that was the size of a Tick Tack that, if it was real and actually lit, would’ve burned the shit out of his fingers.  Another big problem with the performances in this movie is that there is no one for you to like.  Perhaps you don’t hate Baby, but he’s basically window dressing.  Every other character is completely unlikeable so why would I give a shit if any of them died.  I guess I gave more of a shit that not everyone was dead at the end.  That would’ve satisfied me.

The Baby is not a good movie.  Sure, it’s creepy and unsettling, but in a different way than a horror movie that is actually good.  It was creepy to watch the Mr. Hands video, but I don’t really call that a horror movie.  It’s more of a snuff film.  This one’s more of something you shouldn’t bother watching.  The story’s icky, the performances suck, and there’s nothing to look at or listen to that would distract you from the crapiness of the movie.  I guess you could watch this thing if you wanted to make fun of something.  But I just did that for you, so you can save yourself the trouble.  The Baby gets “With your damned tit in his mouth, and you call that nothing?” out of “This movie sucks … it’s thumb.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.