Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Grudge Match review

Films about sports have always been popular. Inspirational stories about underdog teams who overcome the odds have been produced for decades. Most of these films are about sports like baseball and football, but every once in a while, we get a sports film that focuses on boxing. Films about boxing are rare, but most of them are classics. The two most famous boxing films of all time are Rocky and Raging Bull. These two films have endured for decades, and both placed on the AFI list of the top 100 films of all time. So doesn't it sound like a great idea to get the star of Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) and the star of Raging Bull (Robert De Niro) to do a boxing comedy where they fight each other? That's the basic premise of Grudge Match. I'll get into the details later, but if you're seeing this movie, you're there to see De Niro and Stallone fight. However, when you have a movie as ignorant and embarrassing as Grudge Match is, you don't get much. Grudge Match provides the occasional laugh and has some entertaining moments, but honestly, there isn't much here.

Grudge Match tells the story of rival boxers Razor Sharp (Sylvester Stallone) and Kid McDonnen (Robert De Niro). Back in the 1980's, the two boxers fought and Kid won. However, the two fought a rematch and Razor won. Kid wanted the final grudge match, but Razor retired. Thirty years later, the story about the boxers shows up on a TV program and the world becomes interested in the story again. Dante Slate Jr. (Kevin Hart), the son of Razor's former promoter comes to him with an offer: do a video game and get $15K. Razor agrees, but he runs into Kid and the rivalry starts all over again between the two. They agree to do the third match, and prepare for the fight. In addition, there's a love triangle with Kim Basinger. The film also stars Jon Bernthal and Alan Arkin. 

Grudge Match is directed by Peter Segal. He's actually done some pretty well known stuff, such as Tommy Boy and 50 First Dates. However, he also directed wonderful films like Get Smart and Nutty Professor II. Grudge Match really could have fallen into either category. It has a neat premise and some very funny people involved. However, the funny people just embarrass themselves, and the premise is cliched and boring. Despite a couple decent hours of entertainment, I can't recommend Grudge Match. However, I can promise that you will enjoy this film when you're watching it on TBS in 2016. It's not terrible, but it's long, filled with cliches, and ultimately pointless. 

The first problem with Grudge Match is the acting. Stallone hasn't been a good actor in years, so it's not hard for me to say that he's not good in this film. However, De Niro is an actor who still gets Oscar nominations. Come on, the guy almost won last year for Silver Linings Playbook! De Niro isn't bad, per say, in the movie. He just embarrasses himself a lot. There is an abundance of stupid things for De Niro and Stallone to do in this movie, and some of them made me depressed. It was just sad. Alan Arkin needs to switch it up a bit. His character in Grudge Match is literally the same character he played in Argo and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. Except this time, it's much worse. Arkin just makes a fool of himself, and while his character in Argo was witty and funny, his character in Grudge Match is just ridiculous. Funny sometimes, but always stupid. Basinger is okay, and Bernthal is not that bad. Kevin Hart's the best thing in the whole movie by far. He's pretty funny. 

The story of Grudge Match is fine, for the most part. I liked the set up of the movie, and some of the boxing stuff was entertaining. I actually like the overall look and feel of Grudge Match, but it's just bloated and often ignorant. The worst part is the love triangle. I don't mind cliched love triangles (the one in Last Vegas was fine), I just don't like them when they take up time in the movie. There's a complicated backstory involving the De Niro, Stallone and Basinger characters and it takes up a chunk of the runtime. It's just boring and redundant. We've seen it before, and we'll see it again. Nothing new. 

I'm not good at predicting the ending of movies. I can sometimes figure out how a movie is going to end, but not very often. Right before the final fight in Grudge Match, Kim Basinger says to one of the two boxers: "Go kick his a##." This basically gives away the ending. It's ridiculous. Grudge Match hinges on you not knowing who's going to win the fight, yet it clearly makes one of the boxers the protagonist. It's just crazy. Watching the movie, I knew that the goal of the filmmakers was to present the characters as evenly flawed so that you weren't sure who to root for. However, one is presented as a great guy and the other one isn't, so you basically know who's going to win. This was a huge flaw for the movie. I'm not sure if the filmmakers could have messed this up worse. 

Another problem with Grudge Match is its length. A lot of comedies have been having this problem lately (Anchorman 2 is a prime example). They just don't know what to cut out. Grudge Match could be much shorter and it might be a better movie. Cut out some of the excess junk in the middle of the film, and Grudge Match is slightly better. Instead, it feels long during the middle section and really isn't that interesting. 

This all being said, I really didn't hate Grudge Match. It's just a film that I looked at with a certain level of  indifference. It's not good, it's not terrible, but it is a pretty lackluster effort by all involved. Most general audiences will get some enjoyment out of Kevin Hart's character, and Alan Arkin will get some laughs, but I just can't recommend that anybody really see this in theaters. It's cliched and tedious, and has nothing that really matters. There are a couple of funny punchlines and running jokes that I loved, but other than that, Grudge Match isn't even that funny. It's not a film that you'll hate yourself for watching, but Grudge Match really has nothing in it that's worth buying a ticket to see. There's just not much there in this film. 

THE FINAL GRADE:  C                                             (5.6/10)

1 comment:

  1. Everybody in this cast still has their charm and lovely personalities, but the script bogs most of them down to being either annoying, or totally dumb. Either way, the script doesn't have their best interest at heart. Good review Josh.