Day Ten: Rocky (MotM 2021)

If you follow my blog, you’re gonna see a lot of Stallone in the coming week(s). Might be all in a row, might be scattered throughout. But my brother and I have started one of our traditional franchise marathons, and we’ve decided on Rocky. How does it fare?

And a note: My brother does not share my sleeping schedule, so these films will have to wait until after my work shifts. I’ll have to keep the posts on these films relatively short!

Rocky is one of the most iconic sports films in American cinema. Constant scenes have been spoofed—the training montages, Stallone eating raw eggs, him screaming his girlfriend’s name at the end of the fight. The classic underdog story, embodying the “American Dream,” gives it a vintage appeal that has captured the spirit of people everywhere (probably).

I’ve always been fond of boxing. Perhaps it is my American upbringing—the violence attributed to it doesn’t bother me all that much. One of my favorite films in Cinderella Man is focused on boxing. I don’t know, it’s just something that I find fascinating; in all fairness, I’m interested in sports in general. Watching a franchise such as this is bound to hold some expectations, given its reach and icon status. Do I think it’s overrated? Yes. Do I see why people like it? Also yes.

Creed is a businessman (but don’t miss the man in the back).

The film’s build-up is really nice. How it builds towards the fight, how it dwells on Rocky’s spirit, his life, his relationships; his sense of purpose in life and how the fight is more than just about win or lose. That indomitable force and the mental risk/reward hanging in the balance is, much like any sport, the defining factor in Rocky‘s entertainment value. That is done terrifically.

Another great aspect is the cinematography… sometimes. Most notable during the training montages (there are a few) and the scenes prior to the fight, it showcases a striking view of the city of Philadelphia and the natural beauty of the land and rivers. Stallone pumping his hands in the air as the sun strikes against the clouds was very gratifying. Stellar choice of music track, too, obviously.

Unfortunately, that’s just about where I’d be willing to give it full credit. Other aspects such as performances, pacing, and relevance of scenes tend to falter in comparison. The first 45 minutes or so feel almost pointless; this isn’t actually so, but various instances don’t really do anything other than, well, perhaps fleshing out Rocky as a character? It’s kind of just him talking a lot. I jokingly asked my brother at one point if he thought Stallone wrote this film to hear himself talk.

Good shot.

Ironically, much like yesterday’s film, there’s a scene in this that made me pretty god damn uncomfortable. Rocky, wanting to get with his friend’s sister, invites her out to a date and brings her to his home. When inside, he makes several subtle hints of his desire for her, and while she resists many times and awkwardly backs away from his advances, he persists until he has her cornered. He takes off her glasses, tells her she’s pretty, and starts kissing her. Eventually, she relents and kisses back. From there, she becomes completely loyal to him and they begin a happy, loving relationship.

So what did we learn, gentlemen? If a girl rejects your advances, just keep pressing her and tell her she’s beautiful in a ~gentle~ way. She’s probably just shy and it’s up to you to awaken her feelings for you. Don’t take “no” for an answer. Thank you, Rocky!

Awkward representation of women aside, there’s not too much in terms of true character development outside of Rocky. His friend has some trouble with his sharp rise, and it’s resolved because Rocky gives his company a shoutout. His old boxing trainer thinks he’s a bum because of his shifty ways of making money, but when selected to fight the big fight, suddenly he’s seen the potential in him all along! Rocky has an opera lesson and then agrees to let him manage him, and that’s that. Lots of things kind of just resolve and we’re left to just remember that they happened. Point A to Point B.

Another good shot.

Remember when I was gonna keep this short? Ha, me too. I really can’t help myself.

I’ll end it here then. It’s a fairly entertaining film, complete with a feast of Stallone-based jibber-jabber. Popularizing the underdog story, there’s a lot here that served as the foundation of sports films afterwards. If I had to rank it, it’s nowhere near Cinderella Man, but I’d put it above Rudy or something. A solid film, though nothing spectacular. Would be good for a boring day.

Final Score: 6/10

The rating for all other films can be found at Letterboxd.

For more, check out the March of the Movies Archive!

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