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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Monday, January 25, 2016

Movie Review - Rocky

***Rocky Week -- Day 1***
***Note:  Spoilers may appear in all Rocky Week reviews.***
Rocky (1976)
Starring Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, and Burgess Meredith
Directed by John G. Avildsen

I had never seen a Rocky movie prior to now.  Growing up near Philadelphia and being a movie buff, I certainly knew of Rocky, but much like Star Wars I never caved in to watching the series.  And then Creed comes out and everyone says how great it is and I figure that maybe it's time to just give in.  So I did.

Rocky doesn't try to be anything other than what it is at its core -- a simple story about how an everyday guy can achieve success by trying hard enough and believing in himself.  A bit of a rags to riches tale that is entirely believable and certainly strikes an emotional cord with its simplicity, Rocky is the quintessential underdog story as we see our titular character (played by Sylvester Stallone), a no-nonsense local Philly boxer, be challenged by the bombastic and braggadocian World Heavyweight Champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) to a huge boxing event.  At the same time, Rocky finds himself falling for the quiet, mannered, and meek Adrian (Talia Shire) causing her alcoholic brother (and Rocky's acquaintance) Mickey to become a bit jealous of Rocky's success in his profession and in his love life.

There's a certain "normalcy" to Rocky's script penned by Stallone himself.  The words that are spoken feel basic and perhaps lacking a little education, couth, or sophistication, but they fit in perfectly with the blue collar setting of the film.  Stallone has crafted a realistic piece here that one can't help believe could truly happen to an underdog boxer living in Philadelphia in the 1970s.

Oddly enough, as the film came to a close, I found myself a bit surprised by the way the final two or three minutes played out.  Here we were waiting all this time for a big boxing match, it happens, and then the film somewhat abruptly ends.  However, I realized as I thought back on it a little more, Rocky ends not placing its focus on the boxing itself (despite an epically long ten-round brawl between Rocky and Creed), but on the human story.  We end with Rocky desperately seeking Adrian and it's Adrian who's given him purpose in life -- not the boxing.  It's rather sweet, certainly simple, yet quite pleasant.  Rocky isn't a great film per se and I'm not quite sure it should've beat out some very solid contenders to win Best Picture, but it's a warmly "familiar" piece that places family, heart, and hard work at its core.

The RyMickey Rating:  B

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