Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Film, Rinse, Repeat

To make a movie these days, you don't need a good idea or a top notch screenwriter.   All that's required is a decent lawyer who will negotiate the rights of the movie you want to remake or copy.

That's the case with "Creed," an overwritten and pretentious film by writer/director Ryan Coogler, who also essayed the criminally overwritten and pretentious "Fruitvale Station" of a few years back.  For this film, Coogler even brings in the Fruitvale star. Michael B. Jordan, to play the title role.   That makes two overwritten and pretentious roles for Mr. Jordan.   I sense a pattern forming.

There are some screen franchises that are better left dead and that goes for the Rocky Balboa story which went through about two dozen different movies always telling the same tale.   Coogler, after probably a lengthy negotiation with the Rocky original producers and Sylvester Stallone himself, puts his own spin out there and essentially copies the very first Rocky film to a tee.   Gee, how inventive is that?

This time, it's the son of Rocky opponent Apollo Creed, who died somewhere between Rocky 2 and Rocky 17.  Adonis Creed never got to meet his dad and wants to now follow in his footsteps in an attempt to know his father.   In the interim, he was raised by his mother played here by Phylicia Rashad.  Frankly, if she's going to be in a movie, I want it to be a documentary where she tells us what she saw during all those years working with Bill Cosby.   But that's just me.

Well, anyway, Creed goes to Philadelphia, which is still apparently the place to go for either a cheese steak sandwich or for boxing lessons.  He looks up Dad's opponent, Rocky Balboa, who is certainly easy to find.  He's either in his Italian restaurant or at the cemetery talking to the tombstones of dead wife Adrian or dead brother-in-law Paulie.  Creed wants Rocky to train him and, at this point, we start to pick up the old Rocky scripts verbatim.  For those six of you who care, it's all here.   The chicken chasing.  The early morning training to the old Bill Conti music.  Even the musical cues are the same.   There's not one clever or original moment in this mess and Coogler should rename his production company Lazytown Films.  It's just that uninspired.

There are plot turns in this swill that you can see coming several reels in advance.  And you're almost tempted to talk along with the dialogue as if it's one of those "Grease" sing-along nights.   You're amused by the familiarity of it all but, at the same time, appalled that something so trite and hackneyed could get a greenlight.

That said, there's something ghoulishly entertaining about seeing Stallone putting on the Rocky hat one more time.   He certainly knows this part by now and, as a lifetime tribute, wound up with an Oscar nomination for his work. Let's just hope that he stops here.   We don't want to see a reboot of an eighty-year-old Rambo battling ISIS when the terror organization takes over Bingo night down at the senior home.

Trust me.  "Creed" is not worth your time.   The people to get truly knocked out is the audience.   And you could do that yourself at home by repeatedly hitting yourself in the forehead with a meat tenderizer.   You better off watching your "Rocky" DVD.

Or, on second thought, you might want to skip that, too.

LEN'S RATING:  Two-and-a-half stars.

Dinner last night:  Had a big lunch, so just a sandwich and salad.

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