“SLY” (2023) directed by Thom Zimny, starring Sylvester Stallone / Z-View

SLY (2023)

Director: Thom Zimny

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Quentin Tarantino, Frank Stallone, Talia Shire,  Henry Winkler, John Herzfeld, Wesley Morris, Jennifer Flavin-Stallone, Scarlet Rose Stallone, Sistine Rose Stallone, Sophia Rose Stallone and Sage Stallone.

Tagline:  Meet the man behind the hero.

The Story:

Sylvester Stallone takes us behind the scenes for an intimate look at his rise from humble beginnings to international superstardom as well as the ups and downs along the way.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

SLY is as much a personal reflection as it is a documentary.  Director Thom Zimny said that he had full access to tell Sly’s story without interference.  What Zimny did is allow Sly to open up. From these reflections, Zimny created the documentary.

Many of us (especially die hard Stallone fans) know the broad strokes.  Sly came from a broken home. He did poorly in school, He was only getting bit parts as thugs in movies when he wrote ROCKY and refused to sell out. We know the Rocky films led to Rambo films.  There were disappointments along the way.  Cop Land was supposed to bring the big comeback.  It showed Sly had the acting chops to hang with DeNiro and the rest of the all star cast, but it didn’t work as a springboard back to the top.  We know that Sly refused to let Rocky V be Balboa’s swan song.  Against all odds, Sly was able to get Rocky Balboa done and that put him back on top.  Rambo (2008) followed.  Then The Expendables.  We knew that Sly for nearly 50 years has been a movie superstar and shows no signs of slowing down.

Yeah, we knew all that.  Because we are Sly’s diehard fans.  Many moviegoers don’t know these things.

What many of us (even Sly’s biggest fans) didn’t know were the stories and side notes that Sly provides throughout the documentary.  Sure, we knew his dad was tough on Sly and Frank.  Now we learn just how deep that went and the impact it had on Sly’s work.  We learn of Sly’s regrets.  Not just with films chosen or passed on, but in his use of time.  Especially when it comes to family.  Sly says, “Life up to forty is all about addition, after that it is all about subtraction.” If that doesn’t resonate with you, then my bet is you’re still under forty.

We hear from celebrities about Sly – Arnold, Tarantino, his brother Frank, Talia Shire, Henry Winkler and one of Sly’s oldest friends who also made it in Hollywood, John Herzfeld.  Their contributions are excellent.  What really makes the documentary work for me is Sly’s reflections.  Seeing his handwritten early draft scripts.  Getting a glimpse behind the scenes.

SLY is an excellent documentary.  I would love it to be first in a series detailing different aspects of Sly’s life/career.  He’s such a great raconteur. We know he has more stories to tell.  Still, if this is all we get, we got a winner.