Grudge Match

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Director: Peter Segal.
Screenplay: Tim Kelleher, Rodney Rothman.
Starring: Robert DeNiro, Sylvester Stallone, Kim Basinger, Alan Arkin, Kevin Hart, Jon Bernthal, LL Cool J, Barry Primus, Anthony Anderson, Ireland Baldwin, Rich Little, Roy Jones Jr, Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson.

Yeah, look at us! We’re not dead! Everyone’s laughing at us! The whole world’s laughing at us! But we’re not dead! In fact, I feel more alive now than I ever felt!

Although their careers have went in very different paths, Sylvester Stallone and Robert DeNiro have been around roughly the same amount of time and have, on occasion, come together. In 1976, they were Best Actor nominees for two of their most successful roles in “Rocky” and “Taxi Driver” (both losing out to Peter Finch in “Network“) and in 1997 they shared the screen for the first time in “Cop Land“. Now they’re at it again…

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Henry ‘Razor’ Sharp (Stallone) and Billy ‘The Kid’ McDonnen (DeNiro) where once two towering rivals in the boxing ring. However, after one win each, Sharp promptly announced retirement leaving the public and McDonnen eager for a deciding match. 30 years down the line, they are both given another opportunity to settle their score once and for all.

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Who would win in a fight between Rocky Balboa and Raging Bull’s Jake LaMotta? – you can almost hear the film being pitched by some fanboy fantasist as two of cinema’s most iconic films and boxing characters are capitalised on. There seems to be a lack of decorum in it’s concept and it only goes to show that money always does the talking in Hollywood.

Basically, what you see is what you get. It has an element of fun but really never extends to anything more as it leans heavily on the ridiculously cliched and self-indulgent end of things. In fairness, this probably did sound like a good idea, especially when the leads seem to be game for sending themselves up but really, it’s all just mediocre tosh.

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You’d have to be punch drunk to find anything more than a modicum of enjoyment and that essentially comes from the two stars’ commitment and conviction. Stallone does his usual Sly-schtick and the kind of vehicle you expect from him these days. The same could be said for DeNiro but he does seem quite up for having a laugh and surprisingly delivers an entertaining performance. As for the support, Jon Bernthal does what what he can in a small underwritten role as DeNiro’s son while Kevin Hart’s promotor is only added for irritating comic relief. Alan Arkin brings a welcome light humour to the proceedings but it’s certainly not up to his usual standard and Kim Basinger has little to do but stand around the periphery, sulking about her past history between the two boxers. That’s about all that can be said as this certainly isn’t a film that would require any form of an in-depth dissection. I’ve said enough already.

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It may be a bit unfair to criticise the fitness of the stars (Stallone’s 67 and DeNiro’s 70) but this isn’t so much Grudge Match as Pudge Match. The two ageing stars struggle to move themselves around the ring let alone land a blow. There are some blows to be had, though, but they only connect with their fading reputations.

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Mark Walker

Trivia: In the mid-credits scene, on the wall of Dante’s (Kevin Hart) office is a fight poster written “Segal Vs Ewing”. This is a reference to the film producers Peter Segal and Michael Ewing.

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38 Responses to “Grudge Match”

  1. Everybody here clearly seems to be trying, but a little too much of this just goes nowhere, or even worse, offends. Especially with the brass humor that apparently everyone in this movie is so fond of delivering. Though I can’t say it was terrible, I can’t say that it was all that great either. Just a mis-step for mostly everybody involved. Good review Mark.

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    • They do seem to be trying, Dan. You’re spot on but really it doesn’t amount to very much and tarnishes some good reputations. I didn’t exactly hate it as there were some moments of enjoyment but I couldn’t really bring myself to give it a decent rating. Thanks a lot bud!

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  2. Haven’t seen this one Mark, but I’m almost certain that there’ll be nothing funnier in the film that your “Pudge Match” line. That should be on the poster! Sad to see DeNiro constantly doing these roles from the void. Great review mate!

    Adam.

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    • Ha! Cheers Adam. Yeah, the film was certainly carrying a bit too much weight around the midriff. DeNiro is my favourite actor, and has been for as long as I can remember but he really is above this type of stuff.
      It’s sporadically entertaining but no much else to be honest.

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  3. Good here Mark. I was hoping this would be at least three stars, it sounds slightly entertaining but is it worth a watch?

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  4. Nice review. I thought this movie looked like a giant gimmick so I decided to pass on it. Looks like I made the right choice.

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  5. Pudge Match, ouch!! I thought you’d enjoy this more given ur love for DeNiro Mark, alas the material was THAT bad eh? I’m gonna stay away from this I think.

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    • DeNiro is actually quite good, Ruth and he can’t really be faulted. If truth be told, I actually did find some enjoyment. It’s one of those films that can just wash over you but when I reflected on it, I felt a bit cheated that they used two great films in Rocky and Raging Bull for nothing more than monetary reasons.

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  6. davecrewe Says:

    I’m glad that “Rocky vs Raging Bull” exists even I have zero interest in seeing the film. Nice review :)

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  7. Pudge Match. Hats off to you Mark! Got a kick out of reading this :)

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    • Cheers Mark! In all honesty, I wasn’t even going to bother with a review so I just threw this together. If you’re looking for a bit of brainless nonsense this will do the job. Otherwise, leave it out.

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  8. You’ve given this craptacular looking movie more than it’s due. I think 2/5 is very fair. I deliberated on seeing this for awhile but ultimately gave up because not only was there hardly any hope of me enjoying two legends just make fun of themselves the entire time, but there was too much other great stuff coming out around this time for me to really care much about this one. I can’t explain why I enjoyed something like Escape Plan or The Last Stand more, maybe i just like Arnie more or something. Those movies are of this ilk, but in my opinion are better

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    • Craptacular! I love it, man. I only have this a go for DeNiro, really. I’ll watch anything he’s in but as we’ve all said so often these days, it’s a shame he’s involved in gumph like this. To be fair, it had a bit of fun about it but really there wasn’t much point.

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  9. There seems to a trend for old guys doing silly things comedies at the moment. No idea why!

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  10. Ooof! I think you’ve just confirmed what I expected…I think I’ll give this a wide berth!

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  11. If “Pudge Match” is an original, you have my undying admiration. I love a good pun (almost as much as I love a bad one). If you are merely sharing it with the rest of us, thanks. It takes a couple of turns that might be too cliched but also might have given it more worth. Kevin Hart is a weak link and I can’t believe I’m saying this but Alan Arkin was not good.

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    • As far as I’m aware “Pudge Match” is an original Richard. Can’t honestly I’ve heard anyone else say it. Glad you like it, man. I reckon it’s a fairly accurate description for this film. Totally fare that Hart was a week link and Arkin had done much better. What the hell was Basinger even doing there?

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  12. Great review mate, sounds like this one has a fun idea but has no right to be spread over a whole film. Clearly going for novelty value it seems.

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    • Novelty value is all it really has, man. Stallone and DeNiro are rather good, I have to say. They seem committed and up for it but the material isn’t all that great. I enjoyed it enough, but it was never really going to achieve a high rating.

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  13. jackdeth72 Says:

    Hi, Mark:

    It seems to me that far too many directors are more concerned in being “cute” and “playing it safe” when presented the opportunity to let two war horses get gritty and romp and play.

    From the trailers and your critique, Peter Segal bunted badly hwn he could have knocked it out of the park. More’s the pity.

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  14. Great review Mark. This looks pretty terrible. I was a little tempted when it was in cinemas when I was after something really dumb. But I think that picture of just how comically old De Niro looks in the ring dissuaded me from bothering.

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    • Cheers Tim. I only really went near this for DeNiro’s sake. He’s actually quite entertaining in this and seems game to play along. Overall, though, it would have been wiser to leave these two iconic characters in the classics they belong. There was really was no need to send them up.

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  15. Good review! Gotta say, this looks pretty awful and so I will be skipping it!

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  16. I agree this isn’t a good movie, but I have to admit I found more enjoyment here than you did. I can’t dispute any of your criticisms, really, but I thought it funny enough to maintain attention (though it is surely still below average).

    Anyway, good review, as always. I enjoyed reading it, at the very least.

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    • Thanks again, man. I did find some enjoyment when I was watching but when it was all over I felt a little deflated that they chose to send up two of their best characters for nothing more than a money spinner. Still, it was pleasant enough.

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  17. Darn it…I was expecting/hoping for a bit more from Rocky versus Raging Bull..!

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    • Their characters are no doubt played upon Dan. Who knows, you might get some enjoyment here. I did at the time of watching it but when it was over with I realised it didn’t really amount to very much.

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  18. “Pudge Match” made me chuckle. :)

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  19. I agree completely about this one. The actors seemed passionate about what they were doing and I honestly believe that they thought a good movie was being made. But damn, it was disappointing as hell. Not to mention extremely boring…

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    • Yeah, can’t fault the stars, man. They gave it enough to maintain an interest but ultimately it fell flat on its face. Rather pointless at the end of it all. Thanks man!

      Like

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