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DID YOU READ

The Training Montage: A Love Story

The Training Montage: A Love Story (photo)

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Variety ain’t always the spice of life. Just look to the “Rocky” films, which for three decades now have been a testament to the fact that you can build a franchise on the exact same formula. Rocky’s down and out. He struggles. He finds encouragement from Adrian. He trains. He fights.

Oh, he trains. The “Rocky” films have defined the training montage — from the first tootings of Bill Conti’s horn-heavy theme to the inevitable moment when a grey-sweatsuited Sylvester Stallone climbs something and lifts his arms in triumph, the endlessly parodied and beyond-iconic training segments have defied irony, sneering and accusations of intense cheesiness. Arriving with unnerving accuracy an hour into almost every “Rocky” installment, the montages get the job done like some form of celluloid freebase — one whiff and you’re on your feet, cheering. As a boxer, Rocky has never met an bizarre training method he didn’t like — he punches meat! He does lunges with a log! “Rocky Balboa,” the latest and last (and I can’t imagine otherwise) film in the series finds Stallone comfortably slipping back into the character the way one would toe on a favorite pair of shoes — sure, he looks worse for the wear, but who doesn’t? As he chugs raw eggs, does one-armed pushups and takes a (canine-accompanied!) run up the stairs of Philadelphia Museum of Art, questions like “Why did this movie get made again?” fade from the mind. The world could always use another training montage. Here’s a look at the ones in “Rocky”s through the ages.

Rocky (1976)

Song: Bill Conti – “Gonna Fly Now”

Trainer: Mickey Goldmill
Definitive moment: Rocky beats up a side of beef.

Shots of opponent training? No — Apollo Creed is mostly shown schmoozing.

Company on the climatic stair-run: No one — the first time, he goes it alone.

A good portion of original recipe “Rocky” is spent setting up the elements that will make up the definitive training montage. In a series of pre-montage moments, Rocky pulls himself out of bed in the pre-dawn, tosses back five raw eggs and take a jog through the quiet streets of Philly, gasping his way up the museum stairs. He visits Paulie, who in a fit of rage (“It is cold in here!”) pummels a nearby meat slab, inspiring him to do the same and prompting the eternal question from a visiting reporter: “Do other fighters pound raw meat?” “Nah, I think I invented it,” he replies.

The montage itself, set to Conti’s Rocky theme, starts with Rocky running through the streets of his run-down neighborhood (a trashcan is on fire; someone throws him an apple) and down towards the water — cuts show him at the speed bag, doing one-armed and clapping pushups, getting mysteriously but, one presumes, therapeutically punched in the stomach, pounding more lumps of meat, and finally, back to the run, accelerating to take the stairs at dawn, one of the first uses of a Steadicam. Rocky raises his arms and jumps up and down, and…freeze frame.

Rocky II (1979)

Songs: Bill Conti – “Going the Distance”/”Gonna Fly Now”

Trainer: Mickey Goldmill

Definitive moment: Rocky catches the chicken.

Shots of opponent training? Yes — Apollo Creed, newly serious, punches bags, skips rope, and beats up a flunky.

Company on the climatic stair-run: Masses of children and grown fans.

In the pre-montage portion of the movie, we see a droopy Rocky half-heartedly training without Adrian’s approval — Mickey employs the dubious 1920s technique of having Rocky chase a chicken around (“I feel like a Kentucky-fried idiot”). Later, empowered by Adrian’s command to “Win!”, Rocky embarks on not one but two training montages — the first finds him doing one-armed pushups in silhouette at dawn, using a sledgehammer in a scrap yard, doing squats and lunges with nothing less than a log on his shoulders, lifting weights, skipping rope and finally catching that chicken (“Speed Speed! Speeeeed!” Mickey screeches). And…freeze frame. Then unfreeze frame, and after a quick interlude with his newborn son, Rocky sets off down the train tracks to Conti’s familiar theme. As he runs through the streets of his neighborhood, people are considerably friendlier (though the trashcan is still on fire). Rocky starts gathering a crowd of kids and others who run along with him — one imagines just to show they could, as there was trouble wrangling extras in the first “Rocky” — going faster and faster until he takes the stairs and the masses, catching up to him, cheer “Rocky! Rocky!” And…freeze!

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Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

Uncle-Buck

Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…