Picks and Pans Review: Rocky V

updated 12/03/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/03/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire

At the end of each Rocky, the cinema stallion finishes on top of the world. When the next chapter begins he is brought low again, ensuring another cathartic climax in which he triumphs over insurmountable odds. There must be a name for this bizarre malady—how about Yo-yo Adrian Syndrome?

The formula has never been so abused as it is in this sappy sequel, which one can only hope is the end of the line for Stallone's gravy train. First we find out that Rocky sustained irreparable brain damage in his victory over the Russian Drago in IV. Then a shady accountant leaves him flat broke, and he's forced to move his family into a shabby row house back in the same Philadelphia neighborhood where he started. His stalwart wife, Shire, gets her job back in the pet shop.

Wait; that's not enough humiliation. Stallone trains a boxing protégé (played by real-life heavyweight Tommy Morrison). They even run up to the museum of art together in a replay of the most famous cinematic steps scene since The Battleship Potemkin. But Morrison betrays Sly for a bombastic, Don King-like promoter (Richard Gant, giving the movie's only energetic performance). Finally, Rocky is shunned by his only child (played by Stallone's son Sage).

The biggest problem with Rocky V is that it isn't even a fight film. It's an old-fashioned kitchen-sink drama, set mostly in the grimy rooms of Balboa's neohumble abode. Having painted himself into an alley, plotwise, Stallone is forced to try to top off this film with a totally implausible street rumble.

If Rocky has any sense, he won't answer another bell. (PG-13)

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