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Screenwriting Help E-Mail (Previous)

Updated every Monday, one selected e-mail will be posted and answered here each week. With many years of experience in the film and television business, I look forward to providing answers to your questions (often with a humorous eye) about screenwriting or the entertainment industry in general.  Please send your e-mailed questions to: Script Advisor.  You may also wish to visit our Screenwriting Help E-Mails - The Archives.

This week's question: 

I just saw Rocky Balboa and want to know if you thought the same way I did and that the script was too gushy.


This week's answer: 

Schlocky Balboa

Well, Irwin, I did see Rocky Balboa (but thank God he didn't see me because I was holding a sign that read, "Adrian was a pet shop con artist") and understand that the film might have struck you as overly sentimental.  Like many of the "Rocky" series, the script was purposely pointed in that direction in order for us to be nostalgically drawn back thirty years into the original world of Rocky, the Italian Stallion, when he met and fell in love with Adrian, the Polish "Molish" (no, not really)  and had his first bout with Apollo Creed.  

The script does have a maudlin, sometimes almost cloying sensibility as we're brought along through Rocky's painful memories and current situation.  Even as his life takes on purpose from meeting the down-and-out husbandless female bartender and agreeing to box the heavyweight champion, even when Rocky, through sheer will, goes all ten rounds with the champ, throughout the ordeal, Rocky is always Rocky:  a well-intentioned, sincere, pitiable "fighter-a-saurus," trying to maintain in a world that's speeding by him.  From the post-first-bout moment when he shouted, "Adrian!" to the last moment in this script when he's walking away from Adrian's grave, Rocky, though he has indicated that he no longer has the drive to box anymore, he's still Rocky, thirty years older, but still Rocky, the underdog who proved himself time and time again, and who will somehow continue to be victorious with your support and others who will appreciate, admire, and somewhat pity the lug.  (Prizefighters playing the lead roles in films seem to always be punch-drunk and face-punched, pitiful lugs.)

One could say that the script of Rocky Balboa is basically a melodrama, and a rather thin one, at that, when it comes to the lack of complexity within it.  Rocky is the "struggling nice guy" with nary an iniquitous bone in his body (I think the Iniquitous bone is connected to the thigh bone).  The script is relentless until it's drawn out all your sentimental tears as Rocky's forgiving, tenacious and "streetspun" way wins over his brother-in-law, the husbandless bartender, the bartender's son, his own son, and finally the champion (and let's not forget apparently all of Philadelphia).  (It may be sentimental, but at least it's totally believable.)

I admit that I cried -- no, make that "bawled my eyes out."  (Don't worry; I still have my eyes; that's a strange expression, isn't it?).  And the tears from those eyes were the same kind that I shed during "Life Time Movies-'Old Yeller'-'Lassie'-'The Champ'-'House on the Prairie'" moments.

Sorry.  Little House on the Prairie.  (The "little" makes the show more pitiful.)


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