MGM and Revolution Studios have devised an inspired strategy for marketing Rocky Balboa, the sixth, not exactly long-awaited installment in the saga of cinema's most celebrated, cauliflower-eared pugilist: dispatching Sylvester Stallone to influential media outlets equipped with quotes depressing enough to both distract potential audience members from the ridiculousness of a premise involving a sexagenarian boxer making a comeback based on an X-box fighting simulation and to recast his participation as a valiant struggle against an industry that forces early retirement upon its aging stars. A melancholy Stallone tells the NY Times, in hopes of inspiring some guilt-induced ticket purchases:
"People were saying the parade had gone by, and who was I to try and bring it back again?" Mr. Stallone said during a phone interview last week. "I just felt that I've had a lot of regrets in the past 15 years, and I had to go back and rid myself of this regret." [...]
An artist dies twice, and the second death is the easiest one," Mr. Stallone said in speaking of his long fall from Hollywood's pinnacle. "The artistic death, the fact you are no longer pertinent — or that you're deemed someone whose message or talent has run its course — is a very, very tough piece of information to swallow." [...]
But he was not yet ready to accept obsolescence, even if that meant risking ridicule by turning back to the past. "Every generation runs its course, and they are expected to step aside for the next generation," Mr. Stallone said. "My peers are going through it right now, and they feel they have much to contribute, but the opportunity is no longer there. They're considered obsolete, and it's just not true. This film is about how we still have something more to say."
After Stallone's moving thoughts on artistic death and obsolescence, it's hard not allow yourself to be swept up by the thought that if Rocky Balboa doesn't do healthy opening weekend business, the actor will be stripped of his boxing gloves and bullet bandoleers, abducted from his mansion, and deposited in a wheelchair in the Faded Action Stars Retirement Home, where he will live out the remainder of his purposeless days being forcefed his own nutritional pudding by a nurse who annoyingly insists upon supplying him with constant updates about Vin Diesel's career. But before you allow yourself to succumb to a pity-motivated trip to his movie, remember that Stallone's peers have gone on to vibrant second acts as Governators and face-melting guitar shredders; if he merely takes up a hobby, he can spend the rest of his life as a similarly vital member of society.