A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Rocky II, typically for Hollywood, glorifies the brutal sport of boxing as the way our champ hero proves his value and his "heart." Of course -- especially coming off the last movie -- there are other ways, like getting a good job or learning to read, that Rocky (played by Sylvester Stallone) could have shown his worth, but the screenwriter (played by Sylvester Stallone) and the director (played by Sylvester Stallone) arrange circumstances so that Rocky has only one option: fighting.
What's the story?
Picking up where Rocky left off, the underdog Philadelphia prizefighter enjoys a touch of fame after his controversial split-decision loss to champ Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers). Rocky is able to marry his girlfriend Adrian (Talia Shire) and move into an upscale townhouse. But when he shoots a TV commercial, Rocky's secret comes out: He can barely read. Moreover, boxing has damaged his vision. He tries to support Adrian by returning to his meat market job, but is layed off. Meanwhile, Apollo Creed nurses a grudge about his bout against Rocky. He trains hard and tauntingly and publicly challenges Rocky to come out of retirement to settle once and for all who's the greatest, even though more hits could cost Rocky his eyesight. As if that isn't bad enough, Adrian is pregnant. And if that isn't bad enough, Adrian also lapses into a coma... So, who do you think is going to win?
Is it any good?
ROCKY II is very similar to the first film, except this time around it feels like Stallone's rabid fans got to vote on the ending. Cornball complications are made palatable by Stallone's decent direction. He knows the lovable-lummox character thoroughly, and he puts so much joy in to the performance we end up following Rocky and Adrian from Palookaville to Cliche-ville in spite of ourselves.
Rocky's almost too good to be true here, saying nothing but nice things about Apollo Creed, even thanking Creed for the rematch in which his fearsome enemy plans to humiliate and destroy him. Watching Rocky Balboa embodying good sportsmanship does give one cause to reflect how often opponents in sports dramas are demonized into monsters rather than respectful competitors.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the differences between the honorable lug Rocky and the strutting, vain, vengeful Apollo Creed. Rocky remains completely complimentary to Creed all the way, even thanking Creed for the rematch in which his enemy plans to destroy him. How often do you see athletes behaving so gallantly in movies, where opponents are routinely demonized as vengeful, comic-book villains, not respectful competitors? How about in real life? Also of note, kids with reading and/or vision problems might relate to Rocky's struggles in that arena.
- In theaters: June 15, 1979
- On DVD or streaming: October 1, 1997
- Cast: Burgess Meredith, Carl Weathers, Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire
- Director: Sylvester Stallone
- Studio: MGM/UA
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 120 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: boxing violence
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