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 is the first of many sequels in the Rocky franchise. There's a lot of boxing violence: Rocky and Apollo beat each other to a pulp, with blood running down their faces. The toll boxing is taking on Rocky's health is a major theme -- there's talk of the injuries Rocky has sustained, and that if he continues to fight, there's a chance he could go blind. The movie also explores what happens when people don't "make it" in professions where the odds are long; families can talk about the challenges that not just boxers, but other athletes and artists, face when pursuing their passions, and about how Rocky realizes what he has already figured out: He's born to box. Infrequent mild profanity includes "hell," "damn," "crap," and "Christ." Rocky inadvertently makes a joke by confusing the word "condominiums" with "condoms." Rocky is also shown trying to overcome the difficulties he has when trying to read.
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What's the story?
Picking up where Rocky left off, the underdog Philadelphia prizefighter (Sylvester Stallone) enjoys a touch of fame in ROCKY II 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 laid 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?
This sequel 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 in Rocky II. He knows the lovable-lummox character thoroughly, and he puts so much joy into the performance that we end up following Rocky and Adrian from Palookaville to Cliché-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 sporting conduct 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?
Why do you think there is such a timeless appeal for "underdog" movies? What are some other examples of movies in which the lead character or characters defy the odds and emerge victorious?
Talk about sequels. Are sequels ever better than the original? How does this compare to Rocky?
- 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
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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