Rocky II training montage

Gotta Fly Now

A Definitive Ranking of Every Rocky Training Montage

Catch an all-day Rocky movie marathon Sunday March 6th on IFC.

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Photo Credit: United Artists

What’s the best part of every Rocky movie?  The turtles? The complicated racial politics? The talking robot? (It’s not Paulie’s talking robot.) It’s the training montages, of course. These movies may have begun in the ’70s — and are still going strong today thanks to Creed — but there’s nothing quite as beautifully ’80s as a Rocky montage. If watching one doesn’t give you the “eye of the tiger,” or get you strong now, well, you are dead inside. Now, whadda ya watin’ fer! Here’s the definitive ranking of the Rocky training montages. And let us be clear, there are no losers here. All of these montages went the distance.


7. Rocky V

Okay, never mind. This one does sort of suck. Much like the movie it lives in, this is the weakest of the Rocky training montages. Is it the cheesy ’90s soundtrack rap? Is it that, for the first time, Rocky is training someone else? Is it that the boxer he’s training, Tommy Morrison, has the charisma of a block of wood? No, all the snazzy hats and newspaper headlines can’t hide that this montage isn’t about inspiring us — it’s about Rocky neglecting his son. Um, yay! You get ’em, Rock? The only thing this montage leaves us pumped to do is not phone in fatherhood. And while that’s an important lesson, it’s isn’t a Rocky montage.


6. Creed

Now this is a great movie, with a pretty kick butt montage. Bringing things back down to Earth in a big way, director Ryan Coogler put a hip-hop spin on the stripped down simplicity of the first Rocky’s training sequence. Sure, there are speed bikes and a touch of wacky shadow boxing, but the fact that Adonis isn’t just training for a fight, but fighting for Rocky’s life, gives this whole thing some serious stakes. A lack of Rocky himself, and a stacked deck of classic montages, are the only things that knocks this down so low on the list.


5. Rocky Balboa

As gritty as these things get, this is Rocky back in his element, even if he doesn’t belong there anymore. Rocky Balboa isn’t the best movie of the franchise, but this montage has by far the best speech. Tony Burton, who just recently passed away, runs through a litany of Rocky’s liabilities, before saying Rocky’s trick to beating Mason “The Line” Dixon is “good old-fashioned blunt force trauma.” They’re going to hurt the other guy so much, “they’ll rattle his ancestors.” Yes sir! Add in a back-to-basics Rocky pounding slabs of meat and chugging egg yolks, and this montage combines nostalgia with kick ass-itude in equal measure. (Let’s just hope Lipitor is part of Rock’s training regimen.) Also, Rocky wears matching outfits with his dog, for just the right amount of wacky. A solid outing all around.


4. Rocky IV

Nothing is quite so gloriously ridiculous as Rocky, in peak Cold War form, outrunning Soviet goons like he’s in a Roger Moore Bond movie. This was less a montage than a music video, and the music is pure ’80s cheese. The drop from “Gonna Fly Now” to “Hearts on Fire” charts everything gloriously wrong and ridiculously hilarious about this franchise. Still, it is a classic in its own way. With no equipment, Rocky’s forced to lift wood and rocks to train, as Drago injects himself with steroids to a funky beat. Paulie has to milk a cow, indoors, for sustenance. Between the jazz synth music and Rocky’s luxurious beard, this is by far the most ridiculous training sequence, but for anyone who grew up in the ’80s, this the Rocky training montage they remember best. Who needs the Philadelphia Museum of Art stairs when you can just climb Mount Russkie?


3. Rocky

The one that set the standard, this is a no frills, classic example of what a Rocky montage should be. Here’s a big, dumb galoot, in over his head, just trying to get in shape. Light jogging gives way to one-armed push-ups as we start to feel like, hey, maybe this knucklehead has a shot. Unlike some of the later montages, this one feels like a more organic part of the movie, helping to tell the story of a nobody becoming a somebody.


2. Rocky III

Now this is when things starting going a little sideways, in a truly magical way. Stallone had clearly been hitting the gym (and the pharmacist), by the time Rocky III rolled around, and he wanted to show off his massive biceps. One presumes that’s how this montage became, if anything, a glorious celebration of the male physique. Just look at those rippling muscles as Rocky and Creed charge down the beach. Undulating under their short shorts, fighting to break free. This montage has it all. Wackiness, like Rocky pulling Paulie into the pool. A full speed Stallone’s weird O-face. And that ending. Two men frolicking in the ocean, exploring each others bodies with looks of pure joy. We’re not sure what most of this montage has to do with boxing, but it’s all highly entertaining.


1. Rocky II

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the perfect Rocky montage. No wackiness. No frills. It builds on the first movie, ramping up the stakes and the style. The moment a floundering Rocky hears Adrian tell him to win, we know there is no going back. Rocky is still human here, not an ungodly combination of HGH and Beverly Hills plastic surgeons. And the training itself is some of the most visceral of the entire series. Look at that guy slap Rocky in the stomach after every sit-up. That’s messed up! We still have an underdog Rocky here. He’s never won against Creed, much less a cartoon Russian and B.A. from The A-Team. And we still have Mickey yelling in his ear, pushing him to never give up. The ridiculousness of later montages are fun, and but this is Rocky at his best. Yo Adrian, he did it!

Watch Dick Vitale give a Rocky play-by-play, baby! 

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Home Run

Hank Azaria Gets Thrown A Curve Ball

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Unless you’ve somehow missed every episode of the Simpsons since 1989, then surely you know that Hank Azaria is one of the most important character actors of our time. He’s so prolific and his voice is so dynamic that he’s responsible for more iconic personalities than most folks realize. Basically, he’s the great and powerful Oz — except that when you pull back the curtain the truth is actually more impressive. And now Hank is coming to IFC to bring yet another character to the TV pop culture hive mind in the new series Brockmire. Check out the trailer below.

Based on the following Funny or Die short and co-starring Amanda Peet, Brockmire follows the story of imploded major league sportscaster Jim Brockmire as he tries to resurrect his career by calling plays for a floundering minor league team in a podunk town.

The series is written by Joel Church-Cooper (Undateable) and produced by Funny or Die’s Mike Farah and Joe Farrell, meaning that there’s funny in front of the camera, funny behind the camera–funny all around. Sounds like a ball to us.

Brockmire premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Car Notes

Portlandia On People Who Can’t Park

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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If flagrant bad parking takes nerve, then retaliatory note writing takes neuroses. Watch Fred and Carrie take passive aggression to next level in Car Notes, the new Portlandia web series presented by Subaru. The first episode is yours right here and now, and you can see every installment of Car Notes anytime online, on the IFC app and on demand.

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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Nick Kroll and John Mulaney To Host Spirit Awards

The Spirit Awards Air February 25 LIVE on IFC.

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The 2017 Spirit Awards have finally found their frontmen: Nick Kroll and John Mulaney. And it’s no wonder. Just marvel in their splendid chemistry back when they appeared on Comedy Bang! Bang!:

The pair are prolific within the performing arts community: television (Kroll in The League and The Kroll Show, Mulaney as a writer of IFC’s own Documentary Now!), theater (including Broadway’s current Oh Hello Show), and stand-up comedy. In fact, it’s entirely possible that emceeing an awards show is one of the few remaining line items on their professional bucket lists.

It’s important to caveat this announcement, however. Unlike the bigger and more ubiquitously known awards shows, the Spirit Awards are not, well…boring. (We’re talking to you, Oscar.)

They’re funny. They’re honest. They have quality to match the red-carpet fanfare. And that’s alarmingly special. Last year’s show included some legitimately historic moments, like when transgender actress Mya Taylor won best supporting female, or Kate McKinnon’s hilarious and timely parody of Carol. See more highlights here to get the flavor of the Spirit Awards and read all about Film Independent to dig deeper.

The 2017 Spirit Awards air live February 25 at 5P ET exclusively on IFC.

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