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What's the story?
ROCKY Balboa (Sylvester Stallone ) is a sweet-natured, but not very bright boxer and small-time enforcer for a loan-shark. He has a crush on Adrian (Talia Shire), the painfully shy sister of his friend, Pauly (Burt Young). When heavyweight champ Apollo Creed's (Carl Weathers) upcoming fight is cancelled, he and his promoters decide to give an unknown a shot at the title, and pick Rocky. Rocky shows potential, but has never made a commitment to anything. Mickey (Burgess Meredith) wants to throw him out of the gym because he doesn't take boxing seriously enough. But Apollo's offer gives Rocky a chance to see himself differently. Rocky has a chance to think of himself as someone who can hold his own with the world champion, and once he has that image of himself, it is just a matter of taking the steps to get there. Rocky also finds courage to get closer to Adrian, and to help her value herself for her strengths. Each sees the other as loveable, as no one has before. This, as much as anything, is what allows both of them to bloom.
Is it any good?
This satisfying, classic boxing movie offers some decent messages. Rocky is realistic about his goal. He does not need to win. He just needs to acquit himself with dignity, to show that he is in the same league as the champion. In order to achieve that goal, he will risk giving everything he has, risk even the small pride of an unbroken nose. He develops enough self-respect to risk public disgrace. This is a big issue for teens -- adolescence has been characterized as the years in which everything centers around the prayer, "God, don't let me be embarrassed today." Rocky begins as someone afraid to give his best in case it is not good enough, and becomes someone who suspects that his best is enough to achieve his goals, and is willing to test himself to find out.
It's worth taking a look at Creed as well. Like the hare in the Aesop fable, he underestimates his opponent. He is so sure of himself, and so busy working on the business side of the fight that he comes to the fight unprepared.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the appeal of the underdog character like Rocky. What other historical or literary characters fit this profile?
What messages did you take away from the movie about violence? What about love? Perseverance?
What cinematic techniques amp up the drama of this story?
- In theaters: January 1, 1976
- On DVD or streaming: February 8, 2005
- Cast: Burt Young, Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire
- Director: John G. Avildsen
- Studio: MGM/UA
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Misfits and Underdogs
- Character strengths: Gratitude, Perseverance, Self-control
- Run time: 119 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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