Put the Sylvester Stallone documentary, titled Sly, alongside Stallone's Wikipedia entry, and you will find that the latter is more thrilling. Read the actor's or his family's Wikipedia pages if you want to learn something substantial about their life. Because Sly is suffocatingly absorbed with Stallone, so much so that I had to go through the Internet to discover that he has a daughter named Sistine Stallone, who made her acting debut with 47 Meters Down: Uncaged. What's more, before Jennifer Flavin, Stallone was in a relationship with Brigitte Nielsen and Sasha Czack. Open Flavin's Wikipedia page, and you will learn a juicy detail: In 1994, Stallone wrote a letter to Flavin stating that he was having an affair with model Janice Dickinson and he was the father of her infant daughter. The "father" part turned out to be false after a DNA test, so this relationship ended.
Sure, you could say that all this information is not included in this documentary because it's available on the Internet. Fair enough. But then, shouldn't Sly offer something more interesting to the audience? Is it enough that most of the film simply consists of Stallone looking back at his movie career with a nostalgic lens? He talks about Rambo and Rocky and describes his favorite scenes as a film fanatic. He comes across as his own biggest fan. Does Stallone give autographs to himself? He talks about one of the scenes between him and Robert De Niro from Cop Land with such self-preoccupation ("People didn't understand me") that you feel as if he is going to hug himself.
In Sly, Stallone basically pats himself on the back. Since he cannot directly talk about his stardom and success (that will make him appear arrogant), he approaches his fame through an emotional angle. He tells us about his busy parents - his physically aggressive father who made him hate horses. Stallone might have just made Sly "to exorcize his demons," i.e., take revenge for the abuse inflicted on him by his father. What becomes crystal clear after watching Sly is that Stallone's father was not perfect. This means watching this documentary is like sitting through someone's therapy session. Ultimately, Stallone's big, brawny muscles want to be embraced by the audience.
Celebrities like Quentin Tarantino and Arnold Schwarzenegger double up as talking heads. The latter mentions that he and Stallone used to compete with each other when they were young. It was always about holding the bigger knives or guns. Did Stallone make Sly because Schwarzenegger has his own documentary on Netflix? Are they still competing with one another? In Sly, we notice people packing up Stallone's furniture. Is he really moving somewhere else, or is this some sort of metaphor, considering the movie is about shifting from one phase to another and then another? The documentary itself is not properly structured. It's not very well-made, either. The people merely throw words at us while sitting in front of a camera. Like most of the Netflix documentaries, Sly creates content out of an old subject. The streaming service seems pretty happy with its quantity-over-quality approach. I would not be surprised if it greenlights a biopic on Stallone in the future. Or Stallone himself could come up with a docuseries about the making of Sly. He would explain to us how he improvised certain scenes and dialogues here.
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