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|Eric Stoltz||Roy L.'Rocky' Dennis|
|Laura Dern||Diana Adams|
|Cher||Florence "Rusty" Tullis|
|Kelly Jo Minter||Lorrie|
|Ben Piazza||Mr. Simms|
In 1979 Azusa, California, Rocky Dennis (Eric Stoltz), who suffers from a skull deformity, is accepted without question by his freewheeling biker mother's boyfriends, his "extended motorcycle family", and his maternal grandparents (who share his love of baseball card collecting) but treated with fear, pity, awkwardness and teasing by those unaware of his humanity, humor and intelligence. Rocky's mother, Florence "Rusty" Dennis (Cher) is determined to give Rocky as normal a life as possible, in spite of her own wild ways as a member of the biker gang named Turks. She fights for Rocky's inclusion in a mainstream junior high school, and she confronts a principal who would rather classify Rocky as mental retardation and relegate him to a special education school to fulfill his special needs. Rusty asks the principal if they teach "algebra, biology and English at this school, because...these are Rocky's needs."
Rocky goes on to thrive at school. He wins friends by assisting a locker neighbor in remembering his combination. Using humor when faced with an awkward silence during roll call, Rocky just repeats the prior new student's line "Wow, thanks a lot." The class turns to smile and laugh with Rocky. He shows his brilliance in History class by giving a terrific rendition of the Greek myth about the Trojan Horse and it being the starting [sic] point of the Trojan War. Gradually overcoming discrimination and tutoring his classmates for $3 per hour, the principal asks Rocky to accept a job as a counselor's aide at Camp Bloomfield, a summer camp for the junior blind. At his graduation from junior high, Rocky takes home the academic achievement prizes in mathematics, history, and science.
Rocky feels the need to leave his chronically depressed and drug-addicted mother, and in a tough-love way, he helps Rusty help herself break her drug habit. At camp, Rocky falls in love with Diana Adams (Laura Dern), a blind girl who cannot see (but feels) his deformed countenance and is entranced by Rocky's kindness and compassion. Rocky uses his intelligence to explain to Diana the sighted words like pillowy, clouds, red, and green by using cotton balls as a touchable vision of pillowy clouds, a warm rock to explain red and pink, and a frozen rock to explain icy blue. Diana introduces Rocky to her parents, who have a suspicious feeling about Rocky, due to his appearance. It becomes clear that Diana is overprotected by her parents, who don't give any of his messages to her, nor is she allowed to answer the phone when Rocky calls from home.
Near the end of the film, Rocky faces the pain of separation from two people he is closest to. His girlfriend goes away to a Special School for the Blind and his dream of motorbike trip through Europe collapses when his best friend, Ben, who was to come with him tells him that he is moving back to Michigan for good. This drives Rocky into berating Ben and calls him "stupid", then finally reveals to Ben that he conned him out of a Rube Walker card. However, Rocky feels better after taking a bus trip by himself to visit Diana at the equestrian stables, located near Griffith Park. Diana tells Rocky that she never received the phone messages from her parents, and this visit was to be Rocky's final encounter with Diana. One evening when Rocky's "Biker Family" is visiting, Rocky is fighting a fierce headache and quietly withdraws to his room, removes the tacks from his map of Europe, and goes to bed. However, Rocky dies in his sleep during the night. On the next morning, Rusty, who tries to wake up Rocky for school, flies into a fit of grief-stricken rage when she realizes he has died. After destroying the kitchen, Rusty re-pins his map of Europe and says, "Now you can go anywhere you want, Baby."
The movie ends with Rocky's biker family, Rusty, Gar and Dozer, visiting his grave, leaving flowers and some 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers baseball cards by his headstone. A prized poem Rocky penned earlier in the movie closes the film:
Theatrical : 1985-03-08 : United States of America
DVD : 2000-10-10
DVD : 1998-08-12