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To argue the merits of Rocky as a popular phenomenon seems almost unnecessary, and any plot summary is merely a formality. Everyone and his mother knows the story of Philadelphia down-and-outer Rocky Balboa and his miracle long-shot at boxing’s heavyweight crown. Few films can claim to have been seen, and beloved, by so many. Even those who haven’t seen the film feel as if they have, and everyone, fans and non-fans alike, can instantly call to mind the film’s characters, quotes, music and images. It’s a part of the American experience, an inspiration to millions and the blueprint for so many sports movies to follow.
Unfortunately, the film has become so diluted by pop culture references and endless sequels that watching it today almost feels like an exercise in self-parody. It’s so easy to forget that Rocky, the original, is actually a solid film, however calculated. It’s the source of all our subconscious training montages, an accessible commentary on the working class, the romanticized epitome of the American Dream, a record setter at the box office, the Best Picture of 1976, one of the finest love stories in movie history and the greatest underdog story ever told. Continue reading