Like Saturday Night Fever, Rocky is one of those massively successful 1970s movies that a lot of people mistakenly feel they know well, because of what came after it. Saturday Night Fever is more a rough-edged slice-of-life than a kitschy disco-exploitation movie, and Rocky isn’t really a feel-good sports movie so much as it is a low-key working-class character sketch, in the Marty mold. It’s also a reminder of what Sylvester Stallone can do as an actor (and a writer) when he’s making something small and personal, and not trying so hard to be an iconic action hero. As beaten-down boxer and occasional mob enforcer Rocky Balboa, Stallone is low-key and frequently funny, capturing the pathos of a good guy who just needs a break. That’s what makes Rocky’s big final fight so satisfying: Stallone and director John Avildsen spend enough time with the hero to make his moment of redemption meaningful. The inspirational sports-flicks that followed (including some of the Rocky movies) either missed that step, or tried to compress it. Rocky airs on HDNet Movies this afternoon at 4:30 p.m. Eastern, and again at 4:00 a.m.
December 01, 2014 Cable Pick Of The Day