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
A "guy movie" mega-classic that's really gotten better with age.
Scott Weinberg - DVDTalk.com
...there's simply no denying the film's overall effectiveness...
David Nusair - Reel Film Reviews
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
The escapist ideal: it has one foot in our world and the other in the dreamland of opportunity...
Bill Chambers - Film Freak Central
Rocky (1976) is the phenomenally successful low-budget "sleeper" film that was filmed in a record twenty-eight days. Its screenwriter and major star were both unknowns
Tim Dirks - Tim Dirks' The Greatest Films
Tells a timeless story about all the effort it can take to reach for someone else and how our most effective competition can sometimes be us, pushing ourselves to be the best.
MaryAnn Johanson - Flick Filosopher