The iconic underdog is back, but more accurately, he never left. Nobody alive today does not relate to Rocky somewhere deep in their soul. If you feel that Rocky is not part of you, then you are not tapping into your feeling center.
Critics will point out that the acting is coarse, the storyline is strained, the scenes are contrived and the dialogue is hazardous (“You're a fighter, Rocky, so... fight.”) The gloomy cold cityscapes of Philadelphia and the gloomy sweaty gym scenes are preambled with forty-five minutes of Rocky gloomily pining at Adrian's grave and gloomily bemoaning his poor relationship with his estranged son.
Rocky Balboa's miasmatic gloom serves as the motif of everyman's reticent suffering. The struggles of our imperfect relationships, our waning motivation, our losses, our physical aging. All beings suffer, and Rocky shows us how.
The worst thing to do would be to cogitate too much about Rocky Balboa-- it's a gut movie, a feeling movie. Intellect is great when trying to solve foreign policy crises, but for the 100 minutes of watching Rocky, turn off the brain and let the heart (or as Rocky would say, “the basement”) take wing. Be a gut player. It's the right time to do it.
The nuts and bolts of the movie are as sinewy as Stallone's ageless biceps: Rocky's wistful devotion to his deceased wife, his concern for his son and family, and the compassion he shows to strangers and former rivals as well as an unkempt stray dog. These gritty themes are necessary to see and feel once in a while.
Rocky traverses the valley of fear and survives the dark night of a ten round battle against the heavyweight champion. “I feel better than I thought,” the bloodied Rocky says at one point during the fight. In the end, the broken and bruised Rocky is again redeemed, the perpetual archetype of salvation.
Polishing Rocky Balboa, the man or the movie, would certainly be ruinous. The infrastructure is pure unvarnished granite, and it's beauty never gets old.