Rocky is the quintessential sports movie that isn’t a sports movie at all. At the heart of Rocky lies the American Dream and love. The love between two people who are not set up to go very far in life but thanks to the American Dream defy all odds. The love is between has been boxer from Philadelphia Rocky, who now makes ends meet collecting for a loan shark and she, a woman named Adrian, works in a pet store and is so shy she hardly says anything to Rock who has had a crush on her for some time now. What he sees in her, I don’t know. The first hour of the movie, other than the opening scene which is refereed to many, many times has no real sports activities and focuses solely on Rocky’s character and how he slowly but surely wins Adrian for him.
The American Dream that comes in their life is called Apollo Creed. Apollo is the current heavy weight champion of the world and is looking for a novelty. He finds it in Rocky, who he gives a shot at the title out of the blue. With the odds stacked up against old Rock it will take a miracle just to make him go the distance with Creed but this being an underdog story he might surprise everyone.
Rocky is a classic and still not tiresome after repeated viewings. The story has so much heart that its hard not to fall in love with the character Sylvester Stallone puts on screen. While later entries in the series shifted their attention to training montages they play second fiddle here to the story between Rocky and Adrian, and her brother Paulie to a certain degree. The contrast between Rocky and his opponent is enormous. Apollo’s a slick talking well-dresses athlete with a nose for financial opportunities while he’s just an illiterate slow talking low life with no education what so ever. The power of Apollo is that he’s enigmatic to look at, and while the villain of the piece he’s also worthy of the viewer’s sympathy. We cheer for Rocky, but we do respect Creed, despite all his arrogant remarks. The guy just knows how to put on a show.
The movie is filled with certain iconic images. Rocky yelling Adrian’s name, the meat punching and of course the running up the stairs. Filmed on a very low budget the cinematography is very low key, very gritty. The movie is set during fall/winter in Philadelphia which only makes it breath more atmosphere.
The movie isn’t perfect though. The character of Adrian is in my opinion the biggest flaw. This is a character which pays no attention to herself and at almost 30 years old is a very, even extremely shy, person who has never been with a man. This was a bit over the top to me, and I couldn’t figure out why Rocky would be so interested in her. It’s not as if she was the only woman out there for him. But somehow he invests all his energy because he knows this girl he hardly knows is the one for him. Sweet? Sure. Realistic? Less.
Despite flaws like this, Rocky is a really good movie. Heart warming and a notch above the sequels though as the series progressed they geared more towards entertainment than drama. It’s funny how something secondary like the training montages became so memorable every sports movie ever since felt it needed one to a point it even was parodied in Team America en Family Guy.
Yo Adrian, with this movie Sylvester Stallone did it, he went the distance and came out on top.