Rocky (Sylvester Stallone), a small time boxer from Philidelphia, is given the chance of the lifetime when he is chosen to fight the heavyweight champion, Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers), in the heavyweight championship title match for the title of Heavyweight Champion.
It’s movies like this that are making me think about alternate rating scales for my reviews. I liked Rocky but this review is going to sound like I didn’t. There is a lot to like here but I think I don’t jive with it as most others do. It’s not that it was bad, I simply wasn’t blown away.
I understand that this movie is titled Rocky and the “Italian Stallion” is supposed to be front and center but this comes at the cost of almost every other character in the film. Not many characters besides Rocky are well developed. This is especially hurtful for Rocky’s girlfriend, Adrian, who is almost as recognizable thanks to the iconic line “Yo, Adrian.” The film really pushes her shy personality early on and she obviously becomes less shy around Rocky as the movie progresses. This is a huge part of her character and watching her come out of her shell would be excellent to see but we don’t.
Another great character that gets robbed of screen time is Mickey, Rocky’s trainer played by Burgess Meredith. Meredith was nominated for a Best Actor in a Supporting Role Oscar for the part and it is well deserved. However, I would have liked to see more of him. He’s really good in the screen time he has… but he’s hardly seen. Some of my favorite characters from boxing movies are the trainers and the potential was here to see a close relationship build between Rocky and Mickey, especially since it is on rocky ground (no pun intended) when the movie starts.
After some reflection on this film while getting ready to write this review, I’ve realized that Rocky is supposed to be about Rocky the person, not Rocky the boxer. All the same, the non-boxing portions, which comprises probably ninety percent of the film, feel rushed and, at times, unfocused. For example, not much is seen of Rocky and Adrian’s relationship. One scene they are reluctantly going on a date, the next they are dating. Another instance is Mickey, like I mentioned above. Mickey explains how he has fifty years of experience but we don’t see him pass that knowledge along. There are a handful of scenes but most of the training consisted of Rocky running along to the epochal theme by Bill Conti.
Let me end on a positive note before I piss too many people off. Rocky is a genuine feel-good movie. It is a great story about going the distance and beating insurmountable odds. The score is fantastic and I guarantee that the theme is on every workout playlist out there. Also, Sylvester Stallone is Rocky. Stallone wrote the script so it’s no surprise that he plays the part so well. Talia Shire does great as Adrian. I tend to keep to myself but open up once I get to know someone, so I easily related to Adrian and I liked Shire’s performance with that similar personality.
I realize people may be getting the torches and pitchforks but I did enjoy the film. And I know that what’s above may not reflect that but I really did. I just felt the focus was in the wrong spot and the character development was one-sided. Rocky‘s message is an inspirational one that can stir many emotions in many people and I think that’s something that should be taken to heart.
You can also read my reviews for the rest of the Rocky series: Rocky II, Rocky III, Rocky IV, Rocky V and Rocky Balboa.
Cast & Crew
John G. Avildsen – Director
Sylvester Stallone – Writer
Bill Conti – Composer
Sylvester Stallone – Rocky
Talia Shire – Adrian
Burt Young – Paulie
Carl Weathers – Apollo
Burgess Meredith – Mickey
Thayer David – Jergens
Joe Spinell – Gazzo
Jimmy Gambina – Mike
I think it’s always good to read thoughts and reviews that go against the grain. It’s not like you’re saying this movie is bad. I honestly take reviews more seriously that go in a different direction than the others. Not that agreeing with the crowd is a bad thing, either, but i’m always keen on seeing what it is that some people didn’t find so impressive about a certain movie.
Actually it’s funny, I just recently watched The Graduate, and I understand that it is meant to be a classic. I didn’t really like it. So it’ll be interesting to see how people react to my thoughts on it. 😉
Glad you feel that way, Tom. It can be hard to review classic films like this one because of how universally it is loved, especially a Best Picture winner (which I didn’t know Rocky was until watching one of the featurettes). Even if I enjoy it, I feel like I’m not saying anything new and if I don’t like it people are like “What? This is the best. How can you not like it?” So it makes it hard. But I try my best. 🙂
I’ve never seen The Graduate myself, so I don’t have an opinion on it one way or the other. 😛
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Looking forward to your review of The Graduate. Personally, I love it There are a lot of ways that I really identified with Ben, more so than in the source novel. He’s a little more despicable there. I like reading thoughtful criticisms of some of the cornerstones. There are a few that are considered classics that I don’t care for as much.
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