“You don’t choose the films you love — they choose you,” says Arizona Star critic Phil Villarreal. Just like your parents, he means. “If it’s somehow possible that a fictional pop cultural icon can raise a boy, Rocky is my father,” he explains. “Rocky is responsible for instilling the best and worst aspects of my personality — a dogged resolve that tends to segue into a self-destructive stubbornness.
“Sure, my parents technically played their part in bringing me up, providing food, shelter, love and encouragement, but Rocky, with some help from Nintendo’s Mario, showed me the way. I’m exaggerating here, but not as much as you’d think. The Rocky series is truly a part of me, and I was overjoyed that the latest film, Rocky Balboa, maintained the series’ excellence and somehow not only met but surpassed my expectations.”