Rather significantly, this plot doesn’t revolve around the fight, which takes up only the last 30 minutes of the film.  Less focused on fulfilling your dreams, this is a movie is about believing in yourself, no matter how old you may be.  It’s the ultimate Baby Boomer feel-good film, but it’s pretty nice for the rest of us, too.  It’s about self-respect, second chances and the importance of doing what we love, no matter what the cost.  “The only respect that matters is self-respect,” says Balboa, in one of the film’s many great lines.

As writer, director and star, Stallone does a fantastic job on all fronts.  He’s both realistic and touching as the aging athlete with more heart than brains, and who tries to romance a childhood friend (Geraldine Hughes) without letting go of his dead wife (previously played by Talia Shire).  Unfortunately, like Ventimiglia, the Irish Hughes (who does a great Philly accent), doesn’t stand out.  But Young, as always, is compelling.

Stallone, who recently became a born-again Christian, also brings some nice spiritual overtones to the film.  We see this in all the “Rocky” movies, but here it’s more obvious, without being off-putting.  In one scene, a cross looms next to Rocky and his son, as they reconcile beside Adrian’s grave.  In another, a Christian friend reads to Rocky from Zechariah before his fight, about victory in Christ.  We also see Christian values on display when Balboa lets a former rival eat for free in his restaurant and when he treats Dixon with respect, both before and after the fight, which gives Dixon some of the dignity he’s been seeking. 

It’s “Christian filmmaking” at its finest – and a very fitting way to end the series.

AUDIENCE:  Mature teens and up

DVD EXTRAS:

  • Audio commentary by director/screenwriter Sylvester Stallone
  •  “Skill vs. Will: The Making of ROCKY BALBOA” featurette
  • “Reality in the Ring: Filming Rocky’s Final Fight” featurette
  • “Virtual Champion: Creating the Computer Fight” featurette
  •  Deleted Scenes
  •  Boxing Bloopers
  • Alternate Ending

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  A man drinks a beer in a bar where several people are drunk; a character who appears to be an alcoholic drinks and in one scene, is obnoxiously drunk.
  • Language/Profanity:  A few mild obscenities.
  • Sexual Content/Nudity:  Brief shots of men in underwear, shown in DVD extra.
  • Violence:  One character pushes and threatens another who is drunkenly threatening him; some boxing violence, including blood, a few injuries and some falls in the boxing ring.