It’s Jake La Motta versus Balboa. Raging Bull versus Rocky. De Niro versus Stallone. What could go wrong? Well if you guessed “most everything because those two men are now 70 years old” then congratulations, you got it! “Grudge Match” stars De Niro and Stallone as two former boxers who are brought out of retirement to have one final tie-breaking fight. Kevin Hart and Kim Basinger also star and Peter Segal directs.
This is not the first time Hollywood has paired old actors together; it’s been done this year, in fact, with “Last Vegas”, and that too starred De Niro. Only difference is that film was funny, and De Niro actually looked like he wanted to be there.
I found it really hard to find any joy in “Grudge Match”. De Niro and Stallone both clearly don’t care about the movie and slump through their roles with very little enthusiasm. Not that the script would have done them any favors if that had chosen to care.
Of the two guys who wrote the movie, Tim Kelleher and Rodney Rothman, only Kelleher has any experience writing a feature film; and that experience comes in the form of the 1996 kid’s film “First Kid”. The script is just riddled with clichés and a lot of unfunny lines that are just handed to the audience with no effort at all. Even the hilarious Kevin Hart can’t make much of his dialogue pop, as much as he may have tried.
The saving grace for the film is the end fight. Director Segal has proven he is capable of shooting sports and action scenes with “Get Smart” and “The Longest Yard”. The climax is everything you would expect from a feel-good holiday movie, but it was one of the few effective aspects of the movie.
I really wanted to like this movie. I went in expecting “Last Vegas” but with boxing gloves instead of poker chips, and walked out feeling empty inside. When I could understand what Stallone was actually saying I didn’t care, and when De Niro gave yet another mailed in performance you’re more insulted than anything. The film was slated to be released in January, a month notorious for Hollywood’s dumping ground of bad movies, but was pushed up to a Christmas release.
Middle aged people may get some sort of nostalgic rush from “Grudge Match” but aside from a few chuckles and the end fight, which ends very abruptly, the film has nothing to offer. It is kind of like when a fight is really hyped up and publicized, and then ends in a one round KO. Only instead of ending quickly, “Grudge Match” just draws on and on and on…
Critics Rating: 4/10