With few exceptions, the reviews for Rocky Balboa have been pretty charitable. No one is proclaiming it a masterpiece, but the consensus seems to be that Sylvester Stallone could have missed by a mile with his latest, presumably last installment and didn't; the film was almost predestined to receive a critical flaying, yet there's barely a whiff of mean-spiritedness in the reviews. "Rocky Balboa isn't great," seems to be the prevailing opinion, "but it's sweet, and kind of touching, and it's by no means an embarrassment."
Assuming I'm not completely off-base in my assessment of these critical tones, I now feel compelled to ask: Exactly what would Stallone have had to do to make Rocky Balboa a bigger embarrassment? Forget his lines? Trip over the furniture? End the film by beaming Rocky aboard the Starship Enterprise? Make no mistake: Rocky Balboa is a humiliating experience, as grand an exercise in masturbatory excess as M. Night Shymalan's Lady in the Water, and as depressing an ego-trip for the writer/director/icon as could be imagined.