Film Review: Two Old Stars Roast Their Images in ‘Grudge Match’

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Average: 5 (1 vote)

CHICAGO – Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro – between them they have over 150 film credits in careers stretching back to the 1960s. Two of their most famous roles, boxers Rocky and the Raging Bull, get the full make-fun-of treatment in the Christmas Day Film “Grudge Match.” Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

There are decent laughs in this film – with a bit of scene stealing from the hot comic Kevin Hart – but the film doesn’t reach the contender potential it could have had because Sly Stallone wouldn’t go too far in lacerating his iconic boxing image. However, the film is fun enough and epic enough – the climatic fight scene is given proper gravitas and reverence – to make it a good choice for, as they say, the whole family. Stallone and De Niro are comfortable enough to have a good time, and trained enough as boxers to make it plausible. It’s a film that metaphorically is a perfect stocking stuffer – a small gift that with the right timing can be the most treasured.

Henry “Razor” Sharp (Stallone) and Billy “The Kid” McDonnen (De Niro) were light heavyweight rivals in Pittsburgh during the 1970s and ‘80s. They each had one win against the other, but never met for the ultimate third match because of a romantic rivalry involving Sally (Kim Basinger). Sharp dropped out of the fight game, and McDonnen eventually owned some car dealerships.

While Sharp labors at a working class job on the docks, his old trainer Louis “Lightning” Conlon (Alan Arkin) is being kicked out of his care facility. Needing money, Sharp accepts an offer from frenetic agent Dante Slate (Kevin Hart) to work on a videogame, recreating the historic earlier fights with McDonnen. Their rivalry becomes renewed, so much so that they’re willing to step into the ring again as old men – in addition to opening old wounds with Sally and her son B.J.(Jon Berthal) – for the final “grudge match.”

’Grudge Match’ opens everywhere on December 25th. Featuring Sylvester Stallone, Robert De Niro, Kevin Hart, Alan Arkin, Kim Basinger, Jon Bernthal and LL Cool J. Screenplay by Tim Kelleher and Rodney Rothman. Directed by Peter Segal. Rated “PG-13”

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of ”Grudge Match”

Sylvester Stallone, Robert De Niro, Kevin Hart
Sharp (Sylvester Stallone), McDonnen (Robert De Niro) and Slate (Kevin Hart) in ‘Grudge Match’
Photo credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of ”Grudge Match”

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