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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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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