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Review: Grudge Match

Grudge Match
Dec. 24, 2013by:
4 10

PLOT: Two former boxing champs- Henry Razor Sharp (Sylvester Stallone) and Billy The Kid McDonnen (Robert De Niro) - and lifelong rivals reunite in the ring thirty years after their last fight to settle old scores.

REVIEW: Im not going to lie and say that I had sky-high expectations for GRUDGE MATCH. While yes, it does pair two legends- Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone- their last movie together, COPLAND was a full seventeen years ago. In the years since, Stallones managed a nice comeback, which has recently hit a bit of a rocky (no pun intended) patch with BULLET IN THE HEAD, while De Niro has mostly coasted on underwhelming roles, minus the occasional powerhouse part (BEING FLYNN, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK). Still, the two guys seem to have genuine affection for each other, and considering how both were iconic as boxers in their heyday (Sly with ROCKY, De Niro with RAGING BULL) I figured it might be fun to see them go at it as old men.

Its too bad that GRUDGE MATCH is such a witless rehash. Twenty years ago, Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau did virtually the same thing with GRUMPY OLD MEN, with the two as frenemies who- natch- cant seem to live without having the other around to hate. The only real difference is that the two guys here are a bit younger, and a little tougher with them being ex-boxers. Sly plays the nice one, being a former champ who quit boxing years ago after finding out that his girlfriend (Kim Basinger) had a fling with De Niro, and has since spent his time working blue-collar jobs, and welding sculptures out of trash. Get it- hes the sensitive one.

De Niro, one the other hand, is still milking his fame, operating a cheesy bar where he puts on risqu puppet shows, and dreams of the day he can finally go mano-a-mano once more in the ring with Stallone, who he thinks stole his title from him. Enter Kevin Hart, as the spawn of their former Don King-style manager, who convinces the two guys to lend their likeness to a video game. After the two end up getting into a scrap while doing green screen work, and the video goes viral, Hart manages to throw together an exhibition match for the two that quickly spirals out of control, bringing up buried secrets and rivalries.

While Ive been especially hard on De Niro as of late, I do so only because I genuinely believe hes the greatest actor of his generation and I hate to see him slumming it. The one good thing I can say about GRUDGE MATCH is that De Niro at least seems to be having a good time here. Of the two, while Stallone is in way better shape physically, De Niro actually comes off younger and sprightlier. The best parts of GRUDGE MATCH are the bits that focus on De Niro and his estranged son- an ideally cast Jon Bernthal from THE WALKING DEAD and MOB CITY. Its nothing you havent seen before, but the two tough guys play well off each other, and Bernthal seems especially on-point around De Niro, bringing some real chops to the film it may not have had otherwise.

I wish I could say the same for Stallone. I love the guy, but it cant be denied he sleepwalks through GRUDGE MATCH, and gives the lowest-energy performance Ive seen from him in a while. Maybe Slys trying to play him as world-weary and tired, but whenever hes on-screen whatever energy the film had going for it just lags. Given the material, you cant really blame the guy, but even Alan Arkin, playing his default wise-cracking old guy part as Slys trainer, and Kim Basinger (still gorgeous at sixty) as his love interest dont really bring out much in him. He seems bored.

Again though- who can blame him? GRUDGE MATCH could have been a fun film, but given the generic direction from Adam Sandler regular Peter Segal, and a curiously bloated running time (close to two hours) it just falls flat over and over again. Even as a huge fan of both guys, I really cant recommend GRUDGE MATCH even if the handful of scenes between Bernthal and De Niro give the film a bit of a boost here and there. This is a lazy Sunday Netflix rental at best, and both guys are capable- and deserving- of much better.

Source: JoBlo.com

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11:04PM on 12/24/2013

LOL

Ya this movie looked like shit to begin with
Ya this movie looked like shit to begin with
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-1
11:17PM on 12/24/2013
Shame, thought this film would be entertaining and fun.
Shame, thought this film would be entertaining and fun.
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-7
11:50PM on 12/24/2013
I was hoping somehow this would at least be entertaining. DeNiro is my favorite actor of all time and he was awesome in Silver Linings Playbook but this had crap written all over it. I don't even remember the last movie Sly was in that was actually entertaining. What the hell were they thinking releasing this on Xmas?
I was hoping somehow this would at least be entertaining. DeNiro is my favorite actor of all time and he was awesome in Silver Linings Playbook but this had crap written all over it. I don't even remember the last movie Sly was in that was actually entertaining. What the hell were they thinking releasing this on Xmas?
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9:38AM on 12/26/2013
hey at least its a better idea than releasing a movie about samurai and keanu reeves on christmas day.
hey at least its a better idea than releasing a movie about samurai and keanu reeves on christmas day.
1:43AM on 12/25/2013
Oh well. Two legends down for the count, ding ding ding.
Oh well. Two legends down for the count, ding ding ding.
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-22
2:16AM on 12/25/2013

There's no way.....

....that DeNiro is the "actor of his generation." I wouldn't put him in the top ten. He's one of those guys who can only play DeNiro, so if you take him out of that role, he's crap. Comparing him to someone like Hackman or Duvall is simply embarrassing.
....that DeNiro is the "actor of his generation." I wouldn't put him in the top ten. He's one of those guys who can only play DeNiro, so if you take him out of that role, he's crap. Comparing him to someone like Hackman or Duvall is simply embarrassing.
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7:58AM on 12/25/2013
Sorry, but Shelley Duvall isn't that good.
Sorry, but Shelley Duvall isn't that good.
4:41AM on 12/25/2013
Very true! He made some great films as De Niro being de Niro. I still like him though.
Very true! He made some great films as De Niro being de Niro. I still like him though.
7:27AM on 12/25/2013
I was expecting 5/10 so 4 is pretty much there.
I was expecting 5/10 so 4 is pretty much there.
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9:22AM on 12/25/2013
That's too bad. It looked somewhat like a funny film with a good cast.

No matter though. Mr. Scorsese and DiCaprio will be getting my attention and money this Christmas holiday anyway.
That's too bad. It looked somewhat like a funny film with a good cast.

No matter though. Mr. Scorsese and DiCaprio will be getting my attention and money this Christmas holiday anyway.
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+12
10:38AM on 12/25/2013
I will see the film nonetheless beacuse of the two leads.
I always thought De Niro used to be the greatest movie actor untill his films of the 2000's, but last year with Being Flynn, he prove that he can still amaze us!
I will see the film nonetheless beacuse of the two leads.
I always thought De Niro used to be the greatest movie actor untill his films of the 2000's, but last year with Being Flynn, he prove that he can still amaze us!
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10:40AM on 12/25/2013
The movie looks good to me, which is why I'm going to see it. I'll sure I'll get down voted since a review written by someone I've never met didn't change my mind.
The movie looks good to me, which is why I'm going to see it. I'll sure I'll get down voted since a review written by someone I've never met didn't change my mind.
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8:04AM on 12/26/2013
I guess I was wrong about the down voting... :p
I guess I was wrong about the down voting... :p
12:46PM on 12/25/2013
You're assuming a lot. I respect his opinion but as a lifelong fan of Stallone and Deniro I'm excited to see it. It looks like a good time. Movie reviews aren't the same as technology reviews. They're subjective.
You're assuming a lot. I respect his opinion but as a lifelong fan of Stallone and Deniro I'm excited to see it. It looks like a good time. Movie reviews aren't the same as technology reviews. They're subjective.
11:33AM on 12/25/2013
So you will get pulled in by a slick marketing campaign designed by people who just want your money no matter how bad their product is, instead of listening to a passionate movie fan giving his opinion? In the end the only opinion that matters is yours, but saying you would rather listen to the marketing machine than Chris doesn't make you sound like as much of an independent thinker as you think it does.
Great review, btw.
So you will get pulled in by a slick marketing campaign designed by people who just want your money no matter how bad their product is, instead of listening to a passionate movie fan giving his opinion? In the end the only opinion that matters is yours, but saying you would rather listen to the marketing machine than Chris doesn't make you sound like as much of an independent thinker as you think it does.
Great review, btw.
3:51PM on 12/25/2013
Not surprised. I was hoped the trailers were just really really bad, but the sheer number of lame punchlines being thrown at you kind of said otherwise. Generic "ha ha he's old" jokes get boring fast. I didn't think someone would need the budget of this movie to figure that out, but I guess not.
Not surprised. I was hoped the trailers were just really really bad, but the sheer number of lame punchlines being thrown at you kind of said otherwise. Generic "ha ha he's old" jokes get boring fast. I didn't think someone would need the budget of this movie to figure that out, but I guess not.
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12:40PM on 12/26/2013
I'm really not interested in seeing this because it makes no sense that DeNiro would ever be considered a worthy opponent for Sly at any point in his life, especially now. Sly is, and always has been, in too good of shape for DeNiro to take on. On a somewhat related note, I have the same problem looking back at the film Warrior. Tom Hardy was just too ripped and too dominant for me to believe that he could've ever been beaten by Joel Edgerton.
I'm really not interested in seeing this because it makes no sense that DeNiro would ever be considered a worthy opponent for Sly at any point in his life, especially now. Sly is, and always has been, in too good of shape for DeNiro to take on. On a somewhat related note, I have the same problem looking back at the film Warrior. Tom Hardy was just too ripped and too dominant for me to believe that he could've ever been beaten by Joel Edgerton.
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4:03PM on 12/31/2013
The more ripped and jacked up opponent in a UFC fight usually doesn't win.
The more ripped and jacked up opponent in a UFC fight usually doesn't win.
6:07PM on 12/26/2013
Nope, he was nowhere near the size and definition of Stallone in their respective prime, despite being ripped himself in those films you mentioned.
Nope, he was nowhere near the size and definition of Stallone in their respective prime, despite being ripped himself in those films you mentioned.
4:03PM on 12/26/2013
Dude, c'mon, really? De Niro in Raging Bull and especially Cape Fear.
Dude, c'mon, really? De Niro in Raging Bull and especially Cape Fear.
10:26AM on 12/27/2013

Looked horrible from the first trailer

I don't get how every time we put together an amazing cast like Stallone and DeNiro, it always turns ugly. This would have been GOLD if someone like Scorcese directed it I bet. But no, remember when Jet Li and JAckie Chan did a movie together? No? Well they did and it sucked. People waited 20 years for them to team up and it bombed. This is going to be the same thing, a shitty movie that stars two really great actors.

I don't get how every time we put together an amazing cast like Stallone and DeNiro, it always turns ugly. This would have been GOLD if someone like Scorcese directed it I bet. But no, remember when Jet Li and JAckie Chan did a movie together? No? Well they did and it sucked. People waited 20 years for them to team up and it bombed. This is going to be the same thing, a shitty movie that stars two really great actors.

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