Rocky (1976) Looking Back At The Ultimate Underdog Movie

When you think of the 1976 movie Rocky, you might hear in your head the famous montage song “Gonna Fly Now”. You think of Rocky Balboa in the boxing ring, punching the slabs of beef at the meat locker and of course the run up the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. As YouTuber Critical Drinker explains, anytime you hear it, it brings back memories of the times you saw the movie.

It’s impossible to talk about a Rocky movie without that iconic soundtrack. It simply never gets old. Just hearing it evokes vivid memories of the film.

YouTuber Sean Chandler Talks About adds that while Rocky is considered one of the greatest sports movies of all time, it is also one of the greatest underdog stories of all time. Kristian Harloff and Mark Ellis, the founders of the YouTube channel Schmoedown Entertainment Network, brought up how this movie went through its own struggle to get made by a studio that parallels Rocky Balboa's story.

The studio didn’t believe in this movie, really at all. They didn’t believe that Sylvester Stallone could carry this movie. They did it on a limited budget and it is a story of this underdog who doesn’t have a shot. It’s the story of Stallone.

YouTuber Cinemassacre mentions that this is about the character. While Sylvester Stallone puts a lot of himself in the movie, the character shows his emotions and makes changes in his life like anyone else. It’s real.

Sean Chandler stays on the same page as Cinemassacre that this is more than a sports movie and that this is about a movie that explains the inner struggles that Rocky goes through.

The movie is relatable to many of us as Sean Chandler later explains.

The film touches on universal themes that we all go through as we go through adulthood. Whether you’re talking about finding love or answering the question, do I have what it takes?

Ryan Right from Reel Rejects mentions that he has a hard time with Sylvester Stallone being typecast following his performance in this movie.

Somewhere down the line, he began getting type casted as an action star, which totally sucks because Stallone fucking rocks at acting.

Cinemassacre feels bad for Rocky from the start as he struggles working the docks while also being a loan shark who fights at clubs during his free time. While Rocky looks tough, he is also sympathetic.

Reel Rejects does point out that Rocky masks out the way he feels. He’s lonely and depressed, but he keeps going. It’s a great success story. The theme of the movie is to keep moving forward despite having a hard time and Rocky shows that.

The struggles of Rocky Balboa throughout the movie makes you a fan of his and as Mark Ellis says, you root for him when he works out, you root for him when he’s talking to Adrian and you root for him when he has to deal with Paulie. You want him to succeed.

Critical Drinker admits to having a tough time pinpointing the elements that made this movie so well, but he credits the pacing of the movie. You get to know the character before the key parts of the movie.

The scenes give them plenty of room to breathe and the relationships are put into context so their stories carry real weight and meaning.

Reel Rejects says that in the first half of the movie, Rocky is getting no love from the people around him in Philadelphia.

An example of that is brought up by Critical Drinker, who talks about the uncomfortable scene where Rocky shows his anger to trainer Mickey Goldmill after he offers to train Rocky after he has gained popularity. Critical explains it is a fiery argument of two men in two different stages of their lives. He considers this argument fresh and raw decades later.

One scene that only Mark Ellis mentions was the famous montage scene where Rocky cracks the eggs and chugs it down and later runs up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. They feel the excitement and you feel like Rocky.

You’re probably wondering how two opposites attract, in this case Adrian and Rocky.

Rocky sees her inner strength and beauty. In his own words, they fill gaps in each other. Adrian brings out Rocky’s humanity and sensibility while Rocky encourages Adrian’s confidence and self-independence.

Critical Drinker explains Rocky is the muscle of this movie, but Adrian is the heart of it.

Cinemassacre notices that when Adrian starts to warm up to him, so does the audience.

Rocky's best friend and eventual brother-in-law, Paulie Pennino, is portrayed as the funny and lovable character, but Critical Drinker adds that the first movie, Paulie was abusive and jealous in the movie. He seems like a darker character in the first movie, but reminds everyone that this is where Adrian breaks out of her shell and finally stands up to her brother. It perhaps changes the character and what we see in Paulie in the later sequels.

Reel Rejects wonders how his character made it past the movie. Like Mickey, he isn’t likable in the beginning.

He’s abusive, manipulative, creates domestic violence for him and his sister, constantly...he wants to take advantage of Rocky’s success, he blames Rocky when things aren’t going well. He’s a well written character, but he’s definitely not likeable.

While many saw Apollo Creed as a villain in this movie, he was more of an advocate according to Critical Drinker. Both Creed and Balboa are similar. Rocky is humble while Apollo is charismatic.

The entire film builds you up to root for Rocky to win, but despite not winning, it gives you that winning ending.

Cinemassacre like that the movie shows the five main characters as all five of them make changes throughout the movie.

That’s always incredible when one single movie introduces so many characters that are unforgettable.

Cinemassacre mentioned at the beginning of his review that there is no cliffhanger in this movie and you don’t expect a sequel. Rocky leaves everything on the table in this movie.

Critical Drinker sees the moral of this movie from the beginning. This is a movie that hammers the point that going the distance and refusing to stay down is often more important than winning or losing. This movie influenced a generation.

You can find more analysis on movies by Critical Drinker, Reel Rejects, and Sean Chandler Talks on their channels. SEN live streams a movie discussion panel every 10am PT daily.