A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Rocky Balboa remains a hero here, literally star-spangled, and Apollo Creed has also turned into a good sport. In fact, they're pretty much too good to be true, with the nemesis Clubber Lang such a figure of pure evil he may as well breathe fire.
Positive Role Models
This sequel follows established formula of previous Rocky movies: Rocky must learn self-discipline to build strength, stamina required to last in the ring against opponent who should, at least on paper, easily defeat him. Rocky's heart -- his drive and determination -- continues to take him far, despite lack of formal education and not as much natural boxing ability as many others. Apollo helps Rocky regain the "eye of the tiger," the look of one who is hungry for success and willing to undergo whatever grueling training is required in order to win in the ring.
Violence & Scariness
A lot of boxing violence. As in the previous Rocky movies, Rocky is beaten and bloodied. Rocky gets tossed around by a wrestler. Still, it's more cartoony and WWE-like than bloody. While drunk, Paulie vandalizes a "Rocky" pinball machine by throwing a bottle and shattering the glass.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Both the villainous Clubber Lang and a pro wrestler named Thunderlips boast of their sexual prowess. Scantily clad girls are ringside.
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Infrequent profanity: "hell," "crap," ass," "bastard." Paulie makes racist comments while in a predominantly African American boxing gym: He makes disparaging asides of how Rocky is being trained to box like a "colored fighter," expresses distaste for the "jungle" music playing in the gym, and says, "I don't like these people."
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Products & Purchases
Rocky is shown doing ads for American Express, Maserati, Nikon, and Gatorade.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Paulie gets very drunk in a bar, stumbles into a nearby arcade, and throws a bottle at a "Rocky" pinball machine; he's arrested. Scenes of homeless men drinking wine in alleys and on the sidewalks of Skid Row. Cigar smoking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Rocky III is the 1982 sequel in which Rocky takes on a vicious boxer (played by Mr. T) determined to take his World Championship belt. There's a lot of boxing violence; like the other movies in the Rocky franchise, Rocky and the boxers he fights are shown beaten to a pulp and bloodied. While previous films in the Rocky series talked up the long-term physical damage associated with fighting, this one shows the two-fisted violence with no consequences. In another scene, Rocky fights in a charity match against a pro wrestler (played by Hulk Hogan); the two fight in and out of the ring, with Hogan throwing around Rocky, the refs, and anyone who stands in his way. While extremely drunk, Paulie leaves a bar, stumbles into a video game arcade, and vandalizes a "Rocky" pinball machine by throwing a whiskey bottle into it and shattering the glass. While Rocky trains with Apollo Creed in a predominantly African American boxing gym, Paulie mutters assorted racist comments: He complains about the "jungle" music, laments that Rocky is being taught how to box like a "colored fighter," and says, "I don't like these people." While Paulie later compliments Creed on how well he trained Rocky, there isn't a sense that he's no longer someone who would make comments like those. Cigar smoking is shown, as are homeless men drinking wine in the alleys and sidewalks of Skid Row. Rocky is shown gracing the advertisements of products like American Express, Maserati, Nikon, and Gatorade. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Rocky III allocates no human qualities of athletic competition to the Clubber Lang character; he's a one-dimensional bully with no backstory or redeeming features. Which is too bad, because Mr. T -- with no major alteration to his persona or look or catchphrase "I pity the fool!" -- went on to be a kids' action hero on TV's The A-Team and even his own Saturday morning TV cartoon. The original 1976 Rocky was more than just a sports action flick; it had a solid character-building message in its tale of the lowly Philadelphia boxer's underdog shot at the championship: It doesn't matter if you win or lose, as long as you try your best, or "go the distance" in Rocky-speak. By the time ROCKY III came around, that message was knocked right out of the ring.
The racial aspect of the movie is worth discussing with older kids. This was right before the rap and hip-hop explosion that combined urban black anger with pride and empowerment in music and movie characterizations. Mr. T, in his African-warrior hairstyle and gold chains, could well be a gangsta rapper hero -- except he's just a few years too early. Would Rocky III have been a popular hit if Clubber Lang were better drawn, not just white America's worst nightmare of a hostile inner-city thug? In addition to Mr. T, Rocky III was a breakthrough for another star, the WWE idol Terry "Hulk" Hogan, playing a menacing but -- unlike Clubber -- secretly friendly wrestler with whom Rocky grapples in a silly charity match. This helped bring pro wrestling into the mainstream, which should indicate right there the overall level of the material.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.