Study Guide

Rocky Adrian (Talia Shire)

Adrian (Talia Shire)

Shell-Shocked

Adrian is Rocky's best friend's sister and the love of Rocky's life. She's the type of woman you've seen in a lot of movies: she's gorgeous, but everyone acts like she's a homely nerd because she wears thick glasses. Once she takes the glasses off—bam—she's gone "she's all that" on us.

Adrian's character growth in the movie is all about her removing her glasses, and therefore becoming less shy, more confident, and (bonus) a total knockout. (Boxing puns, y'all.)

Ironically, she becomes motivated to do this because Rocky accepts her for who she is. Just like how Rocky wins by losing, Adrian decides to change because her boyfriend likes her just the way she is. He doesn't mind that she's shy, and that fact (paradoxically) makes her open up to him more.

Rocky doesn't change much, but Adrian is a totally different person at the end of the movie than she is at the beginning. In the first half, the longest phrase she can string together without having an anxiety attack is "good night," but by the end of the movie, she's able to stand up to her brother, and tell him that she isn't a loser. She becomes her own person.

Fall Into the Gap

Adrian probably would have been content, if not necessarily happy, living with Paulie for all eternity if she hadn't met Rocky. But once she meets Rocky, she sees how wonderful love can be, and she wants to share her life with him. Every time he says, "Yo, Adrian," she melts inside.

And so do we. In our book, "Yo, Adrian" trumps "We'll always have Paris" and "I'll never let go, Jack" for most romantic line. Ever.

Rocky best explains why he and Adrian work when he says their love "fills gaps, I guess. […] She's got gaps, I got gaps. Together we fill gaps." (That's Rockyspeak for Jerry Maguire's "You complete me"—Rocky was never eloquent.)

He and Adrian have a lot in common, including their sweetness, their genuineness, and their awkwardness. But Rocky has courage and physical strength, and Adrian has intelligence and book smarts:

ADRIAN: My mother, she said the opposite thing […] She said, "you weren't born with much of a body, so you better develop your brain."

This brains vs. brawn dynamic makes Rocky and Adrian (Radrian? Adrocky?) complementary colors, not opposites attracting.

At the end of the movie, as she fearlessly rushes through a giant crowd to meet Rocky in the ring, Adrian is glamorous—she's a far cry from the layered sweaters and Coke-bottle glasses at the beginning. And the Adrian at the beginning of the film would never even have shown up at the arena. But her love for Rocky gives her new confidence.

And that snazzy red beret doesn't hurt, either.

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