Stallone & De Niro were fun at times but the overall story-line and pace of the film hindered the enjoyment.
In many of his recent projects Sylvester Stallone has opted to share the lead with fellow Hollywood veterans and his newest is no different as he and Robert De Niro teamed up in “Grudge Match.” A sports comedy about two old boxers giving it one more go around. The cast is solid consisting of Kim Basinger, Alan Arkin, Kevin Hart, LL Cool J and Jon Bernthal.
I was curious about how the chemistry between De Niro and Stallone would come off, and I was intrigued by whether or not they would be able to handle themselves when the gloves were laced up. I was hoping it wouldn’t be a case of CGI and stunt-doubles taking over most of the in-the-ring action-sequences. I had no doubt Stallone was a shell of his “Rocky” days and De Niro was not close to what he was in “Raging Bull” but I have to admit as a fan of these two stars, I was drawn in.
The result was not completely disappointing but far from as good as I would have hoped. De Niro brought forth a decent performance and Stallone quite honestly was hard to watch at times with his lackluster delivery (out of the ring). The story was nothing new but it would have worked with some tweaks to the pace and more time spent on developing the side stories a little faster. This one turned out to be surprisingly slow at times, and while it did deliver some laughs, the overall comedic elements were not enough to carry a high level of interest as the story-line played out.
The script in this one seemed to waste some of the cast. Kevin Hart was good at times as the comic-relief this project was relying on outside of the bickering old man dynamic. He could have been worked better into the flow of the film to mask some of his clear injections of comic barrages that were clearly there to supplement the intended, but not really delivered scenes of drama between the characters. When the script broke down the framework was clear, De Niro was dealing with his son (Bernthal) and Stallone was dealing with his love interest (Basinger) woven together with the random training scenes, constant bickering and a final battle under the lights with the gloves on.
Basinger and Bernthal were rather unused as far as the impact of their characters and Alan Arkin had his moments, but only when the script would allow. In regards to the boxing action I have to give Stallone and De Niro credit for getting in shape the way they did. The choreography was decent and the camera angles gave you great views of the two old guys going at it in a fashion that fit the story and held a realistic feel.
Overall the film was not great, and not horrible, it told a mildly entertaining but highly predictable story with a collection of characters that didn’t really seem to fit well together. In my opinion it was the writing and the direction the filmmakers took while telling the story that kept this from being more than just an average sports-comedy. “Grudge Match” will not completely disappoint and does have is good moments as well as a collection of laughs, but it is safe to it could have been better.
Time: 107 min
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (For sports action violence, sexual content and language)