The Family Stallone on Paramount+ review: so bad that it’s good

·3-min read

Worried your kids are growing up too fast? Thinking that you should spend more time with them? Sylvester Stallone has a solution: sign up for a Paramount+ show in which you, your three daughters and your wife (who could easily pass for another sister) allow the cameras, Kardashians-style – or more accurately, Osbournes-style – into your home. This is genuinely the reasoning that the ultimate action hero gives when he is asked why on earth he, as an Oscar nominated screenwriter, twice Oscar nominated actor and the only American to have starred in a Box Office Number One movie in six consecutive decades, is turning his boxer’s hands to reality TV. At the age of 76.

I was ready, at this point, to lambast this show as a brazen, ‘what’s a nepo baby, man?’ attempt to supercharge the potential influencer earnings of Sophia and Sistine Stallone (who co-host a lifestyle podcast) and Scarlet (who acts in her dad’s show Tulsa King). But within about two minutes, I was beaming from ear to ear and did not stop for a long time.

This is trash television, obviously. But it is also well aware of this, and because its patriarch remains one of the most likeable people to ever swagger in front of a camera, it is eminently watchable. The caricature of tough guy Sly is played up too. He takes his daughters to a shooting range (“He thinks because he’s been in all these action films, he can shoot better!”). At a party, one of Stallone’s people asks for a chardonnay. “A chardonnay?” gasps Sly at the waiter. “Get him a bourbon!” We meet his brother, Frank – who co-starred in Rocky – and has a Jed-from-Alan-Partridge-style room full of all manner of creepy superfan Sylvester Stallone paraphernalia. “I hate to tell you this, girls,” he says to the sisters. “But you were all conceived on this bed right here!”

“Either he’s a great collector,” Frank’s elder brother muses, “or clinically nuts.”

 (Art Streiber/Paramount+)
(Art Streiber/Paramount+)

Sophia talks about how whenever she brings a boyfriend home, dad is just stood, staring menacingly, at the top of the stairs. Then we cut briefly to footage from Rambo, mowing down everything in his path with an enormous machine gun. This soon happens again, and so we have our recurring theme: how on earth do you find a boyfriend when your dad is a) cartoonishly overprotective, and b) Sly Stallone?

Very soon into episode one, said dad is sat lunching with Al Pacino – a man whose last girlfriend was round about the eldest Stallone daughter’s age – getting him to do his classic lines from The Godfather. Then there’s a welcome home party at which Dolph Lundgren makes an appearance. If you like the action movies of the Eighties and old guys from the action movies of the Eighties pretending that they don’t know how to send text messages and all that kind of thing, it’s great, great stuff.

The scenes in which his daughters are out having cocktails and talking to boys without him are less fun but… well, I am from the generation that was born and raised by Sly (and Arnie) action movies so maybe I would say that. Maybe, just as Ozzy brought the dads in and Ozzy’s kids brought the kids in, this is the idea. I can vividly remember a long period where Ozzy Osbourne became “Kelly Osbourne’s father” to a lot of people. So maybe we are looking at the new Kim, Kourt’ Khloé, Kendall and Kylie here? You’d have to ask somebody else. Me? I’m hooked on the action dad-lolz.

The Family Stallone will air on Paramount+ from May 18