Movie Review: Grudge Match (2013) (** out of 5) - Barely a minute - TopicsExpress


Movie Review: Grudge Match (2013) (** out of 5) - Barely a minute after he shows up on screen, silver screen legend Robert De Niro utters the immortal words: I didnt have a groin itch - Im just a great actor! Whether you find that hilarious or tragic will probably determine your reaction to the well-intentioned but painfully mediocre Grudge Match. The grudge of the films title is the one that has lasted for decades between Billy The Kid McDonnen (De Niro) and Henry Razor Sharp (Sylvester Stallone). In their prime, the two men were the talk of the boxing world. Kid won their first match, Razor their second - but, before their final face-off, Razor quit boxing. Fast-forward thirty years: Kid remains a publicity-hungry Lothario, furious that he never got a chance to prove he was the better fighter; Razor works in a steel mill and is struggling to make ends meet. Neither can refuse when the opportunity to get back into the ring presents itself. The draw of the film, of course, is to see Jake Raging Bull LaMotta and Rocky Balboa duke it out in the ring. De Niro knows it, Stallone knows it, we know it. Both men gamely play off and send up the iconic characters they played decades ago, cheekily winking at - or desecrating, depending on your point of view - their respective cinematic legacies. Actually, it would all be somewhat thrilling if the script werent so predictable and sluggish. Like most of the comedies De Niro finds himself slumming in these days, Grudge Match has a few fun moments (standout: a mile-high publicity stunt) and a handful of good lines. It even gets better as it goes along, kind of - the two prickly protagonists arrive at an understanding that makes more emotional sense than you might expect. But the film as a whole plods by, half ribald comedy, half brooding drama, and never presents either of its leads with moments that theyre fully capable of making memorable. Instead, it gently embarrasses them, pressing home the point that theyre not as young as they once were by flinging (bad) jokes about iPads, hearing aids and old-man boobs in their direction, while stuffing them into ungainly motion-capture suits. To their credit, both De Niro and Stallone show up dutifully for work. They are, at least, worth the watch. De Niro takes the more broadly comedic part, and manfully tries to create a credible relationship with his new-found son B.J. (Jon Bernthal) and grandson Trey (Camden Grey). Stallone manages to dig up some grace notes in his scenes with Lightning (Alan Arkin), his doddering old trainer, and Sally (Kim Basinger), the woman who stirred up even more trouble between Razor and Kid back in the day. Even so, its hard to watch Grudge Match without a lingering sense of disappointment. The material is nowhere near as good as the two lead actors deserve, and persists in undercutting them in ways that probably seemed funny on paper but are simply sad in the cinema. At one point in the film, a physical trainer yells at De Niro, A good performer knows when to get offstage!, followed shortly by, Wheres your sense of dignity? In a movie like this one, its hard to take that moment in a purely fictional sense.
Posted on: Sun, 06 Apr 2014 02:20:12 +0000

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