Movie Review – Rocky

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Movie Review – Rocky

Category : Movie Review

Director: John G. Avildsen

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Carl Weathers

Year: 1976

Rocky is the perfect storm of mediocre talent peaking at the right/same moment and giving us something magical that could never be reproduced.  They tried, like five more times, but none of the other films in the franchise were ever quite as good as the original; Rocky remains champion.  The fact that Sylvester Stallone wrote the screenplay, wrote himself a part, and somehow got it all to work (it was nominated for 10 Oscars) will never not be anything short of a miracle, but then again that’s the whole point; sometimes miracles happen.  This film is simply that specific concept come to life, a larger-than-life story that shouldn’t win but does, a 70s gem that, luckily for us, shone very brightly for one brief moment in time, but etched itself on our minds so sharply that we’ll never forget.

Rocky Balboa is a bum of a boxer who never made it big whose side job is breaking people’s thumbs for a local Philly bookie.  That’s not Rocky though, he’s sweet, he’s kind, he may not be the brightest crayon in the box but he’s got a heart of gold.  He loves his turtles, his neighborhood, working out at Mickey’s gym, and the shy girl at the corner pet store, the mousy little Adrian.  But his chance to make a name for himself isn’t as far off as he imagines, because lighting is about to strike.  The Champion of the World, Apollo Creed, wants an unknown for his next opponent, a chance to gain a massive audience to watch a David & Goliath story, and he picks Rocky, the so-called Italian Stallion.  They seem to be in different classes as competitors, but Balboa has a heart that won’t quit, a tenacious southpaw style that’s hard to beat, and an entire city behind him willing him to win.

It’s gold, that’s all I can say.  Well no, that’s not true, I’m gonna say more, but that’s really what it boils down to; Rocky is gold.  It’s a sports movie with that feel-good, underdog mentality like so many others we’ve seen, but perhaps never done so well as this; Rocky is the leader of the pack.  We root for him like we’ve never rooted for anyone before, and we’re with him every step of the way, through his self doubts and his greatest achievements.  The music is spectacular, obviously, and sweeps us along, pulling all the right strings at all the right moments.  But, surprisingly, the writing is very good, done in a wonderfully simple 70s style that’s among my personal favorites, I just love the unaffected flow of 70s movies with their honest expressions and bare bones.  Rocky isn’t complicated, his mission is focused, his heart is in the right place, we fall in love with him, and so also with the film, partly because it’s so believable and uncluttered.  All the pieces combine around the actors, who all give shockingly great performances: Stallone, Shire, Weathers, Burt Young as Paulie, Burgess Meredith as Mickey.  It’s just good timing, amazing timing, perfect timing, and we don’t see films like this very often where all the elements combine at the right moment in the right way; Rocky is special.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆