Rocket Gibraltar (1988) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • On the 77th birthday of the widow patriarch Levi Rockwell, his son and daughters come to his house by the sea with their families to celebrate his birthday. The promiscuous Aggie Rockwell comes alone but soon finds male company. Rose Black comes with her husband Crow Black, who is a baseball player with problems, and their children Cy Blue and Dawn. The workaholic Rolo Rockwell comes with his wife Amanda 'Billi' Rockwell and their children Orson, Kane, Flora and Emily. His daughter Ruby Hanson comes with her husband Dwayne Hanson, who is a comedian, and their children Max and Jessica. During the night, the children are on the beach with their grandfather and they ask him what he would like to receive as a birthday gift. Levi tells that he would like to have a Viking Funeral since the worms eat buried corpses. When Blue sees an abandoned boat on the beach, he suggests his cousins to repair the boat to give to their grandfather for his funeral. Levi and his doctor hide from the family that he has an aneurysm and may die in any moment. When their grandchildren find him dead on his bed, they decide to honor his wish and give a Viking Funeral to him

  • A man's family comes for his 77th birthday and while he loves all of his children and their children, he and his children don't exactly connect. However, he connects with his grandchildren. And he tells them what he wants for his birthday and they do what they can to give it to him.

  • An old patriarch unites for his birthday all members of his family. But the group of people is full of personal and social problems.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • A family of four siblings gathers at Levi Rockwell's house in the Hamptons to celebrate his 77th birthday: his daughters Ruby, Rose, and Aggie, and his son Rolo, and their eight children.

    Aggie is the youngest: single, sexy, and carefree. Ruby is married to a comedian. Rose is married to a professional baseball player whose pitch is failing. Rolo is a Hollywood producer. Everyone has mild family problems and tensions befitting the affluent.

    The children look through their old rooms at the house and reminisce.

    Levi's grandkids go bicycling and find an old boat along the beach called Rock Gibraltar, which they later rechristen the Rocket Gibraltar.

    While hanging out with Levi on the shore one evening, his grandkids ask him what he wants for birthday. Levi says nothing but a proper Viking funeral: the body was placed in a boat and sent out to sea, and from the shore the family would shoot a flaming arrow at the boat to set it aflame, so it would dissolve into ash in the sea. Then he asks the four boys to join him in peeing into the ocean.

    Youngest grandchild Cy Blue gets the idea to give the Rocket Gibraltar to grandpa for his birthday, so he can someday use it for his funeral. The kids then all agree to fix up the weathered boat and put on a Viking sail, just like a model in Levi's bedroom.

    Levi's children go to the beach and frolic. Aggie gets a lifeguard to chase her, taking on her second boyfriend in as many days.

    Grandpa Levi cooks up some shrimp in beer for Cy Blue.

    While reading alone, Levi has chest pains. Back at the beach, Cy Blue senses that something is wrong, and goes to the house with his sister, who tries CPR on Levi. When she pushes on his chest, he awakens.

    A doctor friend comes by to check on Levi. They talk about how they both loved Levi's wife Helen, but Levi was older and more prosperous, so he was able to steal her away-- when he was 34 and she was only 17. She later died from cancer.

    Meanwhile, the kids listen in on this conversation with a remote radio. They hear Levi ask the doctor if he has more than a couple weeks to live, and realize he will die soon, which they take with remarkable composure.

    The family gathers for a big dinner in the back yard that evening. Levi tells some jokes, and the kids put on a mock rock concert.

    Rose's husband wakes up in the night, taken by the impulse to go out to a barn and practice pitching. He suddenly gets his curveball back. The next morning, Rose is aglow with fresh sexual satisfaction, which all of her siblings and in-laws discuss.

    Aggie then cries over their missing mother, saying that no one talks about her. Then they all dress up and go to her grave, which is in a family plot. Cy Blue comments that grandpa would not want to be buried there, because he would not want to be eaten by worms.

    Rose's husband is surprisingly picked up by a helicopter in the back yard to return to baseball. Everyone else continues setting up the party for Levi.

    Ruby comes to Levi in his room and gives him a book on Jackson Pollock. His other kids later come in to give him a Fred Astaire movie. He peacefully rolls over on his bed while reading the book and watching the movie.

    Levi's grandkids later come into his room and find him unresponsive. They place headphones on him and turn up loud music, but he is dead. They quickly resolve to move his body to the Rocket Gibraltar, wrapping his body in a blanket and loading him into a catering van, which the eldest drives to the beach.

    While Levi's children try to find him and the grandkids, the doctor shows up to the party and reveals that Levi has an aortic aneurysm, and not long to live. Once they realize the van is missing, they set out in cars to search for Levi and the kids.

    The grandkids meanwhile go to beach and shove the Rocket Gibraltar onto shore. They load Levi's body on board. They douse a woodpile with gasoline and light it on fire. They shove the boat into the ocean and shoot flaming arrows at it until it catches on fire.

    The rest of the family arrives and watches the fire, just as the Vikings did, and just as Levi wanted. We hear his voice once again telling his grandchildren that if the colors of the pyre match the colors of the sunset that day, then he lived a good life. And thus the boat and his body can turn to ashes, and vanish completely into the sea.

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