Monday, December 30, 2013

Review 231: "Grudge Match"

A battle of the ages.

Grudgement Day Would've Been Better

      Grudge Match is a 2013 film about boxing. Originally scheduled for January 10, it was moved up to Christmas Day. The film is a Warner Bros. Picture. Directed by Peter Segal (Get Smart) and written by Tim Kelleher (First Kid) and Rodney Rothman (22 Jump Street), the film follows two retired boxers, Razor (Sylvester Stallone) and Kid (Robert De Niro) who had a rivalry years ago and now, in their older years, find themselves drawn back into a rematch by the son of their old promoter (Kevin Hart). WIth the rematch on the horizon, Razor get trained by old friend Lightning (Alan Arkin) and falls for old flame Sally (Kim Basinger), while Kid connects with his newfound son B.J. (Jon Bernthal) and contends with a jerk of a trainer (LL Cool J). K.O.... of information.

I bet they don't constantly reference those other boxing movies.
Rocky Who?

      I can almost guarantee that Grudge Match is going to be one of those films I see every year that I'll be surprised to remember I saw in theaters, joining this year's fellow entries RED 2 and The Family. I'm honestly not sure why I did go to see this film, but I'm not entirely angry I did. I don't think anyone is going to really like Grudge Match. Then again I doubt anyone will really hate it either. The film is a perfect example of a movie that comes and goes without leaving a mark. Which is honestly too bad. After all, seeing Stallone and De Niro fight should be a fun time, but it isn't, especially when the film touches on nearly every boxing cliche ever invented. Even more so considering how the two greatest boxing films are Rocky and Raging Bull, which, well, the film really hopes you remember. And that is what this film feels like. Like it was meant to be a Rocky/Raging Bull movie and no one could really move on from there. The film barely tries to do anything interesting and hopes that it can get by on the excitement of the climatic Stallone/De Niro match-up. But unfortunately, it doesn't work that way.

Good Effort

      I mean, Stallone can play a boxer in his sleep and is easily the best part of the film. And De Niro is pretty strong too. In fact, most of the cast is trying to make something happen. But the film keeps piling on the cliches. It might have worked had the film been more serious, but instead, the movie is standing on the edge of the pool, unsure whether to jump in the serious end or the comedy end. And the result is a dull film that is too light-hearted to be really dramatic, but still too serious to be really funny. I mean, we get scenes of Stallone and De Niro in green suits with balls on them and then another scene with a sudden accident and then a fight on a commercial set and then a whole family break-up. At one point, we learn Stallone has a surprising medical condition and the film seems to get more interesting. Then De Niro and his grandson get into a little... accident and the realm of believability fly far, far away. And sure, the final fight is kind of a given good moment, but even  here, disappointingly, the titular Grudge Match turns out to be surprisingly limp and safe. Kinda like the rest of this movie. 

The Verdict

      Grudge Match is about an inoffensive as it gets, but it's also an unmemorable as it gets. Stallone and the rest of the cast might try hard and there are few few bright spots, but when even the final bout turns out to be a bore, the rest of the film just falls to bits. Even the biggest Rocky and Raging Bull fans will fall asleep during this... "comedy"? Grudge Match gets 3 stars out of 6. 

1 comment:

  1. Nice review Alex. While everybody in this movie definitely does try, I couldn't help but feel like the weak script just really tore them down, limb by limb.