The screenplay of Rocky is purest Hollywood make-believe of the 1930's, but there would be nothing wrong with that, had the film been executed with any verve.
Vincent Canby - New York Times
A description of it would sound like a cliche from beginning to end. But Rocky isn't about a story, it's about a hero. And it's inhabited with supreme confidence by a star.
Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun-Times
Sylvester Stallone [is] as likable as a basset hound.
Gene Siskel - Chicago Tribune
I wanted to like it more than I did, but it'll do.
Dave Kehr - Chicago Reader
There are occasional flashes that the film may be patronizing the lower end of the blue-collar mentality, as much if not more than the characters who keep putting Rocky down on the screen. However, Avildsen is noted for creating such ambiguities.
A.D. Murphy - Variety
The basic storyline has been done to death over the years; this is still one of the most effective and successful applications of the formula.
James Berardinelli - ReelViews
The story is achingly familiar, and though Stallone has a certain power, he is certainly not the subtlest actor to crawl out from under Marlon's overcoat.
Richard Schickel - TIME Magazine
It's Sly's droopy-eyed, hangdog/underdog that carries Rocky's tale of transformation. He's no oil painting, no blue-eyed hero. He's not supposed to make it -- and that makes us instantly connect with him.
Dean Essner - Total Film
A crowning achievement in Sylvester Stallone's career as a writer and a performer...
Felix Vasquez Jr. - Cinema Crazed
One of the greatest, if not the greatest, feel good movies of all time.
Scott Nash - Three Movie Buffs
It's all here: the famous Bill Conti fanfare, the 'Gonna Fly Now' training montage, the inevitable 'David and Goliath' climax. [Blu-ray]
Peter Canavese - Groucho Reviews
transforms the gritty realities of economic hardship and personal desperation into a celebration of individuality and determination without sinking into mushy sentimentalism
James Kendrick - Q Network Film Desk
Sly's best pic winner sets underdog-hero standard.
Nell Minow - Common Sense Media
Stallone -- an actor who has made a career of bad performances in bad films -- proves that when given the right material he can act with the best of them.
Matthew Pejkovic - Matt's Movie Reviews
This is really Sly's movie as he slugs his way through a heartfelt performance and delivers some cracking punches, both literally and emotionally.
Adam Smith - Empire Magazine
A great example of underdog sports cinema.
Dean Essner - Film4
Rocky retains its power to enthrall ... a quieter movie than some may remember.... It's worth seeing again, for what it was, before it was betrayed by it's less intelligent, testosterone-soaked progeny.
Philip Martin - Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
A dunce who can fight with a contagious likability: Now that's American.
Chris Cabin - Filmcritic.com
Marty like romance tale with boxing gloves.
Dennis Schwartz - Ozus' World Movie Reviews
A paint-by-numbers inspirational sports film.
Wesley Lovell - Oscar Guy
Better films have been made about the world of sports, but for many Rocky is the sports movie.
Dean Essner - TV Guide's Movie Guide
Wesley Lovell - Cinema Sight
...there's simply no denying the film's overall effectiveness...
David Nusair - Reel Film Reviews
A "guy movie" mega-classic that's really gotten better with age.
Scott Weinberg - DVDTalk.com
An extremely old-fashioned, if also intermittently enjoyable, sports drama that mixes elements of Marty as well as numerous prize-fighting pictures like The Cahamp, Golden Boy, and Somebody Up There Like Me.
Emanuel Levy - EmanuelLevy.Com
Rocky is an old-fashioned fairytale brilliantly revamped to chime in with the depressed mood of the '70s.
Geoff Andrew - Time Out
Easily the best underdog movie ever made!
JoBlo - JoBlo's Movie Emporium
Robert Roten - Laramie Movie Scope
Suffers from age somewhat, somewhat like Mr. Balboa himself theses days, but still wallops.
Steve Crum - Video-Reviewmaster.com
It's sometimes hard to remember what a great film the original Rocky is because its reputation has been hurt by too many unnecessary sequels.
Chuck O'Leary - FulvueDrive-in.com
Jules Brenner - Cinema Signals
Jeffrey Westhoff - Northwest Herald (Crystal Lake, IL)
Stallone thoroughly owns the movie with his groggy, downbeat delivery and sense of indomitability.
Phil Villarreal - Arizona Daily Star
Carol Cling - Las Vegas Review-Journal
Daniel M. Kimmel - Worcester Telegram & Gazette
Mark Palermo - Coast (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
Rich Cline - Shadows on the Wall
Dan Jardine - Apollo Guide
Sylvester Stallone's performance is sheer magic; an authentic and touching portrait of a loser who becomes a winner in the things that matter.
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat - Spirituality and Practice
Though far from a masterpiece, the first Rocky (1976) still feels fresh and miraculous, a true Cinderella story making Sylvester Stallone a worldwide star.
Jeffrey M. Anderson - Combustible Celluloid
Ay, yo! This movie, like, rocks, yo!!
Luke Y. Thompson - New Times
Christopher Smith - Bangor Daily News (Maine)
Stallone is perfect in the ultimate boxing flick.
Gerry Shamray - Sun Newspapers of Cleveland
Look past the sequels to see something special in Sylvester Stallone's boxing classic.
James Rocchi - Netflix
Rocky is a real crowd-pleaser, not because it manipulates the audience but because it has heart.
Kevin N. Laforest - Montreal Film Journal
Fight pictures being rare, Rocky succeeds as an offbeat entry by combining a Cinderella story with a rich character study of a man who boxes because he doesn't know much else.
Dean Essner - Boxoffice Magazine
It is especially meaningful that the action behind the scenes paralleled that in the movie.
Nell Minow - Movie Mom at Yahoo! Movies
Give Stallone credit for going the distance in this film and not going down
John A. Nesbit - Old School Reviews
As perfect a fit of star to role as any in cinematic history.
Brian Webster - Apollo Guide
The memorable combination of the torturous gym workouts, the runs through the streets of Philadelphia and the carcass-beating in the abattoir all combine beautifully as Balboa trains 'to eat lightning and crap thunder'.
Almar Haflidason - BBC