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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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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

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

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.