All of us love to pull for the underdog, especially if the dog's odds are seemingly insurmountable. Of all the thrilling, inspiring, "feel good" underdog movies out there, ROCKY rates as one of the best. The movie that put Sylvester Stallone on the celebrity map (unfortunately), ROCKY still entertains some three decades after its initial, Academy Award-winning run.
We all know the story: Rocky Balboa, an undisciplined club brawler and strong-arm collection man from the slums of Philadelphia, gets a once-in-a-lifetime shot at boxing's heavyweight title. Yet the upcoming fight is merely the trimming surrounding the story; ROCKY is about a humble man with a heart of gold--a man who confronts his shortcomings and insecurities to evolve into a remarkable human being. To assist him on his journey, Rocky develops a timid relationship with an equally insecure girl, a pet shop worker named Adrian (played wonderfully by Talia Shire). To see the two of them together on their first date is one of the film's most entertaining, bittersweet moments; Rocky's small talk is hilarious yet mundane--Adrian looks terrified, yet finally begins to relax, to come out of her shell. Once two lost souls, Rocky and Adrian become indispensable to one another; their growing love transcends the pending fight--the exciting showdown.
The fight itself is cinematic brilliance: a thrilling, totally believable match that will have the viewer cheering from his chair. Carl Weathers looks, moves, talks, and fights like an egotistical heavyweight champ, while Burgess Meredith captures one of film's most memorable roles as Mickey, Rocky's gnarled, battle-tested trainer. Few movies universally touch a collective nerve that has the viewer spontaneously smiling while wiping a tear from the eye. ROCKY is one of them.