Director: John G. Avildsen
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Burgess Meredith, and lest we forget Carl Weathers
Have I Seen it Before: Probably not as many times as I’ve seen Rocky III (1982). I’m not sure what that says about me.
Did I Like It: Hey, yo… I’m not—like—mentally irregular or nothin’.
I’m going to put a thought out there, and if somebody has a different take on this, I’d love to hear it. But if you haven’t already seen Rocky, then at this point, you’re probably not that interested in it. If you have, you probably already have opinions on not only it, but the entire cottage industry that stemmed from this little seed of a movie. With that, we’ll proceed.
It’s difficult to write about a film like this critically. It’s beloved, and with good reason. It is filled with heart, most of it coming from a single source—Stallone, writing but not quite directing—long before he developed the ego that caused some of his later work to drift into the increasingly absurd and occasionally obnoxious. The original film in the Balboa saga is so steeped in the aesthetic of bleak 70s cinema, but may be one of the most rousing film of all time. Most would say the feel-good streak in American cinema began with Star Wars (1977), but I think it started here and only grew as things progressed into the 80s.
It’s an odd movie to consider in context, though. It spawned (so far) seven sequels. That’s mind boggling if you isolate to yourself to the proceedings of this film. With it throwing its weight around during the ’77 Academy Award, extending its underdog bona fides via Stallone sudden propulsion to stardom, I can’t help but think of it in similar terms to Good Will Hunting (1997). Could you imagine seven sequels to that movie? Actually Good Will Hunting III: The Great Beyond (2005), wherein Matt Damon rips open the space-time continuum with his groundbreaking work at CERN That would also make Affleck the modern Stallone in my book, which… You know, that actually tracks.