Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Oscar Movie Review: "Rocky" (1976)

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Year Nominated: 1977
Director: John G. Avildsen
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 59 minutes
Did It Win?: Yes.

A local club fighter named Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) gets the opportunity of a lifetime when he gets offered a title shot against the undefeated world champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers). 

"Rocky" is the ultimate underdog story about one man and his dream, even in the worst of times and situations. It is the quintessential boxing film to which all others are compared. Sylvester Stallone stars as Rocky Balboa, a club fighter, what boxing fans would refer to as a 'tomato can' or a 'ham and egger.' He fights in small venues, taking home less than $30 bucks a fight. Apollo Creed, played by Carl Weathers, is the undefeated world champion, a Mohammed Ali--type that has the gift of gab and is a master of hype. He has a title fight in Rocky's hometown of Philadelphia, but when Creeds opponent breaks his hand, Creed decides to pick a local no-name fighter to give the chance of a lifetime. Creed picks Rocky because he thinks his nickname, "The Itilian Stallion," is marketable. Rocky is a 50-to-1 underdog, but is still determined to rise to the challenge. 50-to-1 underdog?! What we wouldn't give to take those odds to Vegas. "Rocky" isn't just a sports underdog story, it's also a dramatic romance, as Rocky begins to kindle a relationship with the shy pet shop clerk named Adrian, played by Talia Shire. She and Rocky both have a bit of a troubled relationship with her alcoholic brother Paulie, played by Burt Young, who at times is a best friend to Rocky and at others, flies off handle due to his troubles with the sauce. Of course, Rocky loves Paulie's sister, so he will do what he can to help Paulie wherever he can.

This is a well written and well acted movie, which is not something often said about Sylvester Stallone films. Since Stallone wrote the screenplay, it would appear as though he put a tremendous amounts of effort and heart into his characters. In many ways, "Rocky" symbolizes the American dream. A down on his luck, two-bit boxer from Philadelphia with nothing to show for his years of training and commitment gets the chance of a lifetime, and in the end, proves why he was worthy of the chance. There is no denying this is a fantastic film and it, to the surprise of many critics and moviegoers, took home multiple Academy Awards, including best picture, best director, and best editing, plus a slew of other nominations, 10 in total. It beat out such iconic films as "Network," "All the Presidents Men," and "Taxi Driver," and some of these are our favorites. Some might say it isn't worthy, but they are dead wrong. "Rocky" is one of our favorites, too, and it deserves the recognition it is often overlooked. Neither of us were alive when this film first came out, but we love it all the same. This is a movie we can both watch over and over again and still become emotionally invested in the story and characters, moved by Rocky's heart, determination, and of course, the famously expected-yet-unexpected ending. This movie has really stood the test of time, and more filmmakers need to take a trip down memory lane to see how sports movies should be crafted, especially when there are those who are afraid of making their protagonists really fight for their chance at glory with the possibility of losing.

My Rating: 10/10
BigJ's Rating: 10/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 86%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!
To see our review of "Rocky II," click here.

To see our review of "Rocky III," click here.

To see our review of "Rocky IV," click here.

To see our review of "Rocky V," click here.

To see our review of "Rocky Balboa," click here.

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