Cultural Oddsmaker: ROCKY! ROCKY! ROCKY!

AJ Daulerio's Cultural Oddsmaker runs every Friday. Email him and let him know what you think.

Like the rest of the world, when I heard about a year ago that Rocky 6 was in production and was actually going to happen, there was an uncontrollable eye roll. This was as desperate an attempt for an aging actor to recapture something long gone and had absolutely no shot at adding anything more to an already stale franchise. Had Stallone not seen Airplane: The Sequel, when they had the movie poster for Rocky 12 with a withered old man holding up his gloves? He's embracing the punch line. This is going to be awful.

Then as the YouTube videos began to leak, it became apparent that this was no longer a joke. Essentially, this movie is as close to reality as any of the films can get. Just like Rocky Balboa has no business stepping into the ring with a haymaker-throwing younger opponent, Sylvester Stallone has no business re-beefing himself for the sake of sentimental lore.

Or does he?

Once the previews started to filter out on television, my stifled laughter began to turn to eager anticipation: that ominous kettledrum intro, that melodramatic "You can't do this!" dialogue and the snippets of ring footage of that aging, puffy-eyed hero stepping into another skull-shattering roundhouse. It didn't make me wince with embarrassment — it actually moved me. Then it became apparent that, shit, maybe Stallone's a genius. Now, I'm hooked and giddy with anticipation as Wednesday draws closer and closer.

To put me into even more of a frenzied state, I contacted A.J. Benza, former Oddjack employee, Howard Stern exile and, most incredibly, Rocky Balboa costar to get his thoughts on the matter. Considering that Benza's a blood-and-guts dago, I found it a little alarming that he has to play Mason Dixon's manager in this movie. A villain, no less, which is blasphemy for an Italian. How could he possibly root against Rocky?

"To be in the ring while 3,000 chanted his name and I had to act like I couldn't give a shit ... that was almost impossible. Being in this flick, to me, is as important as signing the Declaration of Independence."

Take that, liberty! We've learned to things from this statement: 1) This movie will probably rule for all of the right reasons and 2) A.J. Benza was one of the founding fathers. Who knew?

So, greaseballs of the world unite. Our time is near and our savior from South Philadelphia has returned to rejuvenate us once again just in time for the holidays. In celebration of this glorious week ahead, I'm placing odds on Rocky Balboa's triumphant return. Getupyousonuvabtich...

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Cultural Oddsmaker: ROCKY! ROCKY! ROCKY!

Over/Under on Grown Men Crying At Points During Film: 20

Here's a fun fact: Two sports movies I consistently cry at are Rudy and, um, A League of Their Own. Ah, shut it. When Betty Spaghetti's husband dies it's one of the most tragic things ever shown on film. I may have no testicles. Let's move along, now.

Anyway, I'm bracing myself. Can you imagine if, gasp, Rocky actually dies? Christ. I might have to be taken out of the theater on a stretcher.

Cultural Oddsmaker: ROCKY! ROCKY! ROCKY!

Grown Men Punching Each Other As Film Lets Out: 1/40

Eddie Murphy pretty much nailed that stereotype when he did that whole "Way to go, Rocko!" routine in Raw. I remember after, walking out of the Eric 4 Feasterville (R.I.P.) on Thanksgiving Day after Rocky IV, being introduced to the "man tackle" by a pack of older jean-jacked gentleman who kept running into each other and trying to knock one another over.

Me: Dad, are those guys fighting?
Dad: No, son, they're just happy and inspired.

Then he punched me in the face. It's infectious.

Cultural Oddsmaker: ROCKY! ROCKY! ROCKY!

Over/Under on Percentage of Theater Cheering at More Than One Point During the Movie: 92 Percent

If you're going into this movie expecting anything less than cornball earnestness, well, you might as well not go. If you're going into this movie expecting, well, Rocky Fucking Balboa, then it will easily be one of the top five movie experiences of your life. Honestly, when was the last time you've been in a movie that people clapped? (And if it was Snakes on a Plane, well, pity.) For me, it was Swordfish when Halle Berry went topless. Place went apeshit.

Cultural Oddsmaker: ROCKY! ROCKY! ROCKY!

Over/Under on Number of Male Moviegoers Who Will Join a Gym After Watching Movie: 98 Percent

It's one thing to see, say, Ryan Reynolds get all shredded up for Blade III, and then being inspired to go do something about your growing paunch and your atrophying muscle tone. It's another thing all together to see a 60-year-old man doing beer keg lunges and looking better than you. Shouldn't happen. Sure, Stallone's still got the manatee-with-muscles type look about him, but I'm certain there'll be plenty of Weeble-shaped 40-year-olds that finally start using that Crunch membership before it expires at the end of the year. Be prepared to see your elliptical machines taken over by a lot of guys that look like Steven Schirripa.

Cultural Oddsmaker: ROCKY! ROCKY! ROCKY!

Rocky Balboa Will Beat We Are Marshall at The Box Office: 3/1

Professional oddsmaking organizations like BetUs.Com have this at a very expensive 1/20 right now. I don't know if they're shorting Rocky or just really, really hate Matthew McConaughey. Now, if I remember correctly, the three kids that survived the Marshall crash ate the frozen cadavers of their dead teammates, right?

We Are!

(Photos from The Rocky Balboa Blog)