Grudge Match is an affable sports comedy which only works due to the charisma and on-screen status of Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone alongside a nice collection of supporting players including Kevin Hart, Alan Arkin and Kim Basinger, who all contribute so much from a lackluster screenplay.
Genre(s): Comedy, Drama, Sports
Warner Bros. | PG13 – 113 min. – $35.99 | April 8, 2014
THE MOVIE – 3.0/5
It’s the title bout I honestly don’t think many people wanted though I suppose seeing Rocky Balboa and Jake La Motta trade verbal and physical jabs isn’t an entirely unappealing prospect even if both are easily in their 60s (for the record De Niro is 70, Stallone is 67).
The story follows boxers Henry “Razor” Sharp (SYLVESTER STALLONE) and Billy “The Kid” McDonnen (ROBERT DE NIRO) who back in the 70s fought three times with Razor winning the last bout before deciding to retire from boxing for good, much to McDonnen’s displeasure. 30 years later and their lives have gone on separate paths: Sharp is nearly broke and works in a steel mill while McDonnen owns a couple of businesses, including a bar and car dealership, though that last bout still eats at him especially during a 30th anniversary special covering the event.
When fast-speaking promoter Dante Slate, Jr. (KEVIN HART), the son of the promoter 30 years ago, comes to Razor with an offer of $12,000 to lend his motion capture and voice to an upcoming video game bout between he and The Kid, he reluctantly accepts, upping the amount to $15k, as he’s in financial straits, with the only stipulation being he’s not there when McDonnen is. Well, once there, and in a silly green suit, you can take a guess what happens: McDonnen gets their early and the two duke it out wrecking the place in the process and being recorded for all the Net to see.
After getting bailed out from jail, they learn from Dante that the fight is a viral sensation and he gets the bright idea to instead have the pair duke it out in the ring with each getting a hefty prize for the bout. However, they need to sell the event seeing as there’s not a whole lot of interest in seeing two 60+ year-olds and so we get some comedic scenes finding the pair doing promotional stunts like parachuting out of an airplane to his a target at Target and missing completely and appearing at an MMA fight and pissing off a whole lot of fans.
We also get a personal side for each: Razor’s former love, Sally (KIM BASINGER), has come back into his life while her son, BJ (JON BERNTHAL), visits his father… McDonnen… for the first time. Yep, the grudge goes outside the ring when McDonnen had slept with Henry’s woman and knocked her up. There’s a back story to the events leading up to the affair, of course. BJ meanwhile wants to get to know his father and agrees to train him for the fight as well as introducing him to his grandson.
The pair trade jabs back and forth and eventually we get to the final battle a la Rocky sans excitement and thrills, though seeing De Niro and Stallone in the same ring was still fun seeing even if the story isn’t up to snuff with the talent involved.
Grudge Match also features a solid performance from the always great Alan Arkin who gets a small role as Razor’s trainer and has some fun line punches with Kevin Hart, though the character itself is thinly written and played by a lesser actor would not have worked nearly as well.
The remainder supporting cast also come off pretty well led by Kim Basinger who after all these years still looks incredible and even though she and Stallone don’t exactly share electric chemistry, but the role serves the movie well enough if only to expand the personal elements; Kevin Hart doesn’t get a whole heck of a lot to do, just fast talking and the catalyst to get to the final fight; and Jon Bernthal is impressive and has some solid scenes with De Niro.
Now, as for the main cast, the title match if you will, Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone may no longer be at the top of their game with De Niro relegated to cameo roles in crap movies (Freelancers) and embarrassing appearances in a variety of comedies (Meet the Fockers, Meet the Little Fockers) and Stallone finding clinging to relevance with his macho action Expendable movies with a third one still to come. So while the screenplay might not be top notch, the pair makes the most out of limited material.
Co-Writer and Directed by Peter Segal (Anger Management, Get Smart), Grudge Match effectively helms a movie made for the purpose of putting these two titans back on the same screen since 1997’s Cop Land (an incredible crime-drama by the way). The screenplay doesn’t delve into new ground but it does contain some fun in-jokes and the cast are all amiable despite thin characters.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.0/5
This release comes with a glossy slip cover; inside the case are a standard DVD Copy and a redemption code for the Digital Copy.
The Bull & The Stallion (14:18; HD) looks at the pairing of two cinematic boxing champs appearing on the screen together for the first time. It has some on-set interviews with the cast with behind-the-scenes on their boxing training, one on the west coast (Stallone) and the other on the east (De Niro) before coming together to train together.
In the Ring with Kevin Hart (5:00; HD) is a profile on Hart and his role in the film.
Kevin Hart Unedited (3:57; HD) is more footage with Mr. Hart and his entire wound up glory with alternate takes.
Ringside with Tyson & Holyfield (3:17; HD) is an interview with the two fighters talking about the main characters and training regiment shown in the movie.
Blow by Blow with Larry Holmes (3:34; HD) – This is an interview with the champion fighter and his experience as a boxer.
Alternate Opening (6:45; HD) is more of a prologue adding narration in setting up the history between the main characters.
Alternate Endings (3:22; HD) has two additional endings one where the other fighter wins and the other that ends in a tie, which is the worst one of the three endings…
Deleted Scenes (6:44; HD) include six scenes, with intros to each by Segal, didn’t add very much to the film and were probably cut for pacing.
VIDEO – 4.5/5
Grudge Match enters the Blu-ray ring presented with a 1.78 widescreen aspect ratio and in 1080p high-definition transfer. The picture here isn’t anything astounding but detail levels are good and colors appear to be nice and bright to match the tone of the film.
AUDIO – 4.0/5
The disc includes a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track which is surprisingly subdued considering the sound elements especially when the two enter the ring where crowd noises are hardly resounding or filled with depth. The other parts, such as choice music from every era, come through well enough and dialogue levels are fairly clear throughout.
OVERALL – 3.25/5
Overall, Grudge Match is an affable sports comedy which only works due to the charisma and on-screen status of Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone alongside a nice collection of supporting players including Kevin Hart, Alan Arkin and Kim Basinger, who all contribute so much from a lackluster screenplay. This isn’t a movie I’ll remember much of nor will it headline either vet actors’ highlight reel, but all things considered, it’s a fun enough flick that the family (with older kids) might enjoy if only for a rental.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.