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Some people say “Rocky” is cheesy, but I’d argue the label “timeless” is more accurate. It’s the perfect everyman narrative. A pretty ordinary guy has given up on his passion, resigned himself to mediocrity in all things despite his talent and drive. But when he’s given a shot at real success, he almost immediately kicks into high gear and starts pushing his body to the edge. I don’t think I realized it at the time, but I’m sure that scene in which Rocky sprints along the water and hightails it up the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps was a big part of why I got into lifting weights as a kid. Honestly, I’ve just never been so inspired by a movie before, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that. The sheer willpower Rocky displays at every turn, even when he starts to slip up, and especially when he realizes he probably won’t be able to beat Apollo Creed in the upcoming bout, is just incredible. And then when he puts forth all that effort only to (spoiler alert!) lose in a split decision — that’s the most real a trip to the movies can get. But of course, at that point, it doesn’t even matter that he actually lost; he’s the first man ever to go a full 15 rounds with Creed. He’s met his goal, and now he’s a legend. “SOME PEOPLE SAY 'ROCKY' IS CHEESY, BUT I’D ARGUE THE LABEL 'TIMELESS' IS MORE ACCURATE. IT’S THE PERFECT EVERYMAN NARRATIVE.” THE GREATEST UNDERDOG STORY EVER TOLD Why ‘Rocky’ Will Always Be My Favorite Movie Of course, there have been several sequels in the 42 years since its release, but none of them really stack up to the original — though the 2015 “Creed” is a strong contender. Figuring out my favorite book or TV show might be a challenge, but with movies, it’s always going to be “Rocky.” Whenever that theme comes on, I have to resist the urge to throw my fists up. It’s just the most undeniably uplifting story in movie history.
I’ve talked about my love for Marvel and DC shows and movies before in the newsletter,
but sometimes those superheroes are a little too distant from us regular guys to really relate to. Sure, all those massive CGI blockbusters do their best to
humanize Thor as he fries a dozen aliens at once with lightning, but we remain pretty firmly aware that he’s the god of thunder. My favorite movie ever is the story of a larger-than-life
character who's even greater than those superheroes dominating Hollywood right now, though this guy isn’t out backflipping off motorcycles like Captain America. Instead, he socks hanging slabs of meat in an icy cooler for hours on end. I’m talking, of course, about the original “Rocky” from 1976, an underdog tale of unflappable perseverance and drive in the face of adversity.
When the trailer first appeared, I must have been about 13 years old, caught up in all the anxiety and self-doubt of early adolescence. The instant that iconic theme kicked on with those blasting horns, I knew I had to see this movie. This was the era of Muhammad Ali; it was the same year the superstar boxer squared off against Antonio Inoki to decide whether catch wrestling or boxing was the dominant discipline. Go back and watch the trailer today, and I dare you not to feel almost exactly like I did way back then, excited and anxious to see the movie, and weirdly hopeful.
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