This isn’t to say that “Sly” isn’t an entertaining watch, and anyone with even a modicum of love for Stallone’s work will certainly enjoy their time with the man, but this documentary is as puffy as cauliflower ear. His legal troubles, rocky marital history, and other publicly-known controversies are brushed aside or avoided completely. His most vulnerable moments presented in the film regard his family, where Stallone laments not spending enough time with them and instead focusing on his work. There’s also a small bit of time dedicated to his son, Sage, who passed away in 2012. But it’s still presented through a bit of Hollywood sheen. Even his displayed “shortcomings” are presented in a flattering light, not unlike someone saying their greatest weakness is that “they’re too driven” during a job interview. “Sly” is not an expose or an in-depth biography, it’s an example of printing the legend.
At the same time, there’s a reason Stallone became and continues to be one of the biggest movie stars in existence. He’s hyper-aware of his limitations as a performer and what audiences will accept from him. Moments of him listening to old interviews where a much younger and less secure version of himself talks about “Rocky” and refuses to acknowledge that the film is actually a love story are delightful because he doesn’t back away from the reality that he’s not the man he used to be. There are candid discussions about his action “rivalry” with Arnold Schwarzenegger, but none about the steroid abuse to perfect his action-figure frame. The genuine underdog narrative “Rocky” borders on tear-jerking, but there’s zero acknowledgment of his actual first leading role, the softcore pornography film “The Party at Kitty and Stud’s.”
And yet I could have watched four more hours of Stallone just talking.