Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Rocky Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Boxing Best Picture sets underdog-hero standard; drinking.
  • PG
  • 1976
  • 119 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 19 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 58 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Inspiring messages about hard work and perseverance, working toward a goal despite difficulties, the importance of love and companionship. Other themes include self-control and gratitude.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Rocky is an admirable underdog character. Though he drinks and smokes and has a difficult time verbalizing his thoughts, he cares about the people around him and gives them good advice. He is kind to those who have not always shown him respect and loves animals. His perseverance is inspirational. 


Paulie becomes violent and trashes a room with a baseball bat. He is also verbally demeaning to his sister. The final scene includes a brutal boxing match. 


Some kissing and minor sexual discussions.


Infrequent language: "screw you," "a--hole," and "whore."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Paulie is an alcoholic who carries a bottle of whiskey in his pocket. He often becomes hot-tempered or violent due to excessive drinking. Rocky smokes cigarettes and drinks, but quits both during training. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Rocky is a classic underdog boxing tale that includes plenty of boxing violence, plus a secondary character smashes up a room with a baseball bat when angry. This same character drinks heavily. Rocky and his girlfriend move in together.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 4, 7, and 9-year-old Written byjgcraft February 16, 2009

Great Movie. Rough talk.

I bought this movie thinking it would be good for my boys, who play sports to watch for motivation. After reading the reviews on this website stating that it wo... Continue reading
Adult Written byEric N. August 26, 2017

The Rocky movies aren't about boxing

We watched this with our three children (ages 7-11). A lot of it went over the head of my youngest, but all three of them really enjoyed it. At its core, the... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byNickD531 January 1, 2009

Really Good Movie

This is a really good film. While personally I don't think this is the best movie in the saga, it does introduce us to the character of Rocky and how he ca... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old April 24, 2020


Has a lot of bad language such as: ass, kiss my ass, chicken asses, whore, bulls—t, godda-n, da-n, moron, bast—d, son of a b—ch, shut up, freaking loser, freaki... Continue reading

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?

  • How do the characters in Rocky demonstrate gratitude, self-control, and perseverance? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

Character Strengths

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