Stallone: Frank, That Is Film Review

★★

Directed by: #DerekWayneJohnson

Written by: #DerekWayneJohnson

Starring: #FrankStallone, #SylvesterStallone, #ArnoldSchwarzenegger

Film Review by Lucy Clarke


While you've probably heard of Sylvester Stallone, you probably haven't heard of his younger brother, Frank. While he's a talented musician, Frank has never really got his chance to stand in the limelight and stay there. He's fated to be referred to as "Rocky's Brother" forever. This documentary attempts to give him his moment.


Director Derek Wayne Johnson's documentary is incredibly by the book. Old photos and videos flash by while Frank Stallone narrates. His life story is often interrupted by interviewees who gush about him and his work. The film trundles through Frank's life, from his childhood to his music career. The documentary takes us through Stallone's life in a whistle-stop fashion, ignoring a fascinating avenue to compare Stallone's floundering career with the music Gods he aspired to be. For a man who arguably seems very interesting, this documentary is woefully generic. This man is a musician, yet the music chosen is something that would accompany the trailer of a B-movie. There is nothing here that hasn't been done before, and the sheer quantity of talking heads is enough to send your head into a spin.


The talking heads are all unanimous. Frank is "a natural-born entertainer", he was "the force in the band", he is a "real man, a real fighter". The talking heads gush so much, it's easy to come to the conclusion that Frank is no longer in the world of the living and the film is a memorial piece (I've checked, he's actually alive and well). The report is so glowing that Frank's only issue is that he's occasionally grumpy. Frank doesn't speak to one of his former bandmates for over thirty years, and that conflict is quickly brushed under the rug. Although Frank does seem to be a genuinely affable guy, the interviewees' relentlessness suggests this is more a piece of PR than a documentary. It's even suggested that the reason Frank didn't become a star was because of poor management and a lack of PR. This is a neatly packaged film selling us the idea that Frank is ready for a come-back. It's an hour-long advert.


Frank has always lived in the shadow of his brother Sylvester (of Rocky fame). By the seventies, it truly became a point of friction. However, Frank is either willfully ignorant or naïve to claim that he didn't benefit from nepotism. Although he's definitely a talented musician, many of his most famous moments are directly related to his brother. His first appearance in a film was in the opening credits of Rocky. He wrote all the songs for the film that his brother directed, 1983's Staying Alive. The film's refusal to meaningfully deal with these aspects of Frank's success makes the project seem more and more like an attempt to shoot Frank into the limelight rather than an honest biographical documentary.


Frank Stallone is very charming, yet this documentary won't charm you unless you're already a die-hard fan of the Stallone brothers. Derek Wayne Johnson's unoriginal film relentlessly tries to sell you Frank like he's a can of diet Pepsi, rather than a human being.