Title – Grudge Match (2013)
Director – Peter Segal (50 First Dates)
Cast – Sylvester Stallone, Robert De Niro, Kevin Hart, Alan Arkin, Kim Basinger, Jon Bernthal, LL Cool J
Plot – Old aged ex-boxing rivals Henry “Razor” Sharp (Stallone) and loud mouth Billy “The Kid” McDonnen (De Niro) are drawn into one final bout when boxing promoter Dante Slate Jr. (Hart) convinces them it will be well worth their while. Cue training montages, old love interests and some serious moobs.
“You don’t know what a video game is? When did they unfreeze you, Captain America?”
Review by Eddie on 23/06/2014
You can see the headlines now – Rocky vs The Raging Bull, Stallone vs De Niro a match made in box office heaven right? Too bad it’s not the 1980’s and rightfully this film fell harder than Stallone’s comedic timing. Director Peter Segal’s (who has shown some nice comedy touches in his directing career) comedy/drama is about 30 years too late to the party for in 2013/14 we find ourselves in an era where these 2 once great movie stalwarts struggle film to film to remain relevant and much of the charm they once both possessed in equal yet different measures is a mere flame where it once burnt brightly.
Surprisingly the idea of two way too old for boxing geriatrics going at it for one last bout is not as unbelievable as you’d think it to be but the two aging stars just don’t have the fight within they used to have. Rocky has become a more lifeless and un-enthusiastic bore while Jake La Motta is nothing more than a smug arrogant smirker who tells all manner of jokes that are just not funny. Stallone has always failed in the comedy arena (Stop or my Mum Will Shoot!) so it’s no surprise that his delivery here falls largely flat but De Niro is an actor who has often excelled at comedic timing and punch lines so his failings here can only be put down to a lack of effort or a desire to get his pay check and run. You often get the feeling moments within the film are about to ignite sparks between the two (an impromptu sky dive, a doctor’s visit) but sadly their encounters lack the “punch” needed to garner chuckles or affection which is left to the supports to do.
In Stallone’s corner we have character actor master Alan Arkin as the rude and crude aged trainer Lightning and in De Niro’s corner we have one of America’s most popular stand-up comedians Kevin Hart as promoter Dante Slate Jr who uses the Eddie Murphy playbook of comedy eg; fast, loud and obnoxious. These supporting players play an important part in the film remaining tolerable and have some quite enjoyable scenes together bickering while other supports in the form of The Walking Dead’s Jon Bernthal and the increasingly unrecognizable (talk about plastic surgery) Kim Basinger are there to keep things grounded.
With such potential for two once great movie stars to be united in the common goal of bringing the laughs and the self-depreciating gags (there is a nice moment with Stallone and a cold storage facility though) it’s a shame that Grudge Match produced a pretty tame and lame script with two instantly unlikeable main characters. This movie is very far from the knock out it could have been and instead is like a 15 round bout of endurance saved by some fun supports and the guilty pleasure of seeing Rocky and The Raging Bull belt each other silly.
2 green lycra suits out of 5
P.S – be sure to watch through the credits for what is arguably the films best gag.