It’s probably sacrilege to admit I’ve never seen the original Rocky in its entirety; I’m very nearly from Philly, after all, so close I’ve earned the right to call it that. The Sixers are the only team I’ve never watched play, and I’ve been to the Constitution Center, seen the Liberty Bell. I saw Grip, Dickens’ stuffed raven, in the Free Library, and I have a favorite cheesesteak place (it’s Jim’s, on South Street. Pat’s and Gino’s get all the attention, but Jim’s steaks are the best, hands-down). My first concert was to see Alanis Morissette at the Electric Factory on Seventh and Springgarden.

I mention this because I just finished Rocky Balboa. I started it up because I wanted some footage of Milo Ventimiglia for a sideproject I’m working on. Didn’t really intend to watch it, to be honest, just to skip around a bit until I found what I needed.

Boy, did I ever get sucked in. It’s a Philly movie. The famous steps (I saw two exhibits in that museum; Dali and Degas). The streets and the bridges and the cityscape.

And more than that, it’s totally fucking rad. I wouldn’t’ve thought I’d jump to blog a rave of Rocky Balboa, but I am. I mean, no, it ain’t subtle, but who needs subtle when you’re buildin’ up the hurtin’ bombs? It avoided easy sentimentality, and it had a real, honest-to-God good script, with a story about coping with grief and the nagging suspicion that your better days are behind you. And honestly? When Stallone actually mentioned his grief, over the deceased Adrian? Totally bought it. Totally bought him breaking down, and the anger and the fear and the hurt. And it’s so brief, so fast, but you suddenly realize that he’s been all coiled and balled up.

And then taking it out in the ring? Tapping into that “beast”?

One of the most powerfully cathartic movies I’ve seen in a long time, and just the right gracenote for the series. Well done indeed.