Rocky is not just the story of an unlikely underdog taking down a boxing world champion. It is also a story about how a little movie with a budget of less than $1 million and shot in 28 days would go on to become a huge financial and critical success while ingraining itself into popular culture for generations to come. Sylvester Stallone wrote the film and played the title character. The film spawned a host of sequels and helped establish Stallone as the big star he would become through the late seventies and into the eighties. The film took home Academy Awards for Picture, Director, and Film Editing. So does this classic of the underdog sports genre deserve to be counted among the greats?
Should this film be considered a classic? I think there are very few people who would not argue that Rocky is indeed worthy of the moniker “classic.” You know a film has reached the heights of popularity when people say about other sports films, “It’s the Rocky of basketball.” etc. Rocky is the movie by which all other underdog sports movies are compared. Not only that, the film is a real joy to watch. Stallone plays the character perfectly and actually makes you believe that the heart and guts of Rocky are real and enough to get into the ring with a pro. Also, the setting of 1976 Philadelphia is brought to life through the images of the rough streets, rundown dwellings, and tough physical labor many of the characters engage in just to scrape by. This is an American classic. Also, it was nice to be able to watch a boxing film after disappointingly having to cut Raging Bull short.
Would I own this film? Let me say this, I’m not a huge fan of sports movies. They tend to be largely predictable and very rarely cover any new ground. That said, this granddaddy of the modern underdog sports movie is the kind of film you want to sit down with your son and watch. The lessons it teaches about hard work and persistence even in the face of daunting odds are timeless. I think that is really why this film continues to endure. It teaches timeless lessons and it does so in a film that is a joy to watch unfold. So yes, I’d own it.
Also, the trailer below is a fine example of a good trailer.