Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Review: Grudge Match

Release date: December 25, 2013
Running time: 113 minutes
Starring: Robert De Niro, Sylvester Stallone, Kim Basinger, Kevin Hart, Alan Arkin
Who to see it with: A huge Rocky fan.


Grudge Match is exactly what you'd expect it to be after seeing the trailer. Thirty years past the prime of their careers, aging boxers "Razor" Sharp (Stallone) and "Kid" McDonnen (De Niro) enter the ring to settle their tied boxing records. But, before they do, that they must regain their fighting form, overcome some of their own personal issues that have developed in the last three decades, and get the nation interested in a sport that is no longer top of the competitive landscape. This last part is done by desperate promoter Dante Slate, Jr. (Hart) who does a wonderful job as a fast-talking, say anything for success character. Hart is surprisingly funny, and not simply for his plethora of geriatric jokes that pepper the film. Although there is plenty of age-related humor, the movie frequently breaks away from the age crutch to provide jokes that are funny and a little too edgy at times. And there is plenty of funny banter between old rivals De Niro and Stallone; in fact, outside of any interaction with Hart, the competitive goading between the two fighters are the most enjoyable scenes.

If you've seen the poster (it's at the top of this review), then you've seen the terrible CG editing that the studio did to it. For whatever reason, they thought it would be better to have smoothed over monsters instead of what the characters actually look like. This problem also surfaces at the beginning of the movie where a "young" De Niro and Stallone are fighting in a terrible, CG mess. But thankfully, those instances appear to be the only use of CG during the film. The rest of the fight scenes are done with what looks like smart camera angles, decent action, and lots of sweat from both actors. The end fight is done well, but the build up to the fight is the most enjoyable. Seeing Stallone and De Niro transform from overweight has-beens into fight ready warriors is amazing. As I said, the movie is pretty much what you'd expect. The plot is fairly predictable but serviceable. The acting is fine and the writing is clever, although it would be much less funny without Hart's brilliant delivery. In the end, the movie goes a full 10 rounds and feels like it. It's nothing amazing, but it's definitely a funny movie that will keep you entertained until the final bell.

Rent it.

PS - There are two stingers that occur right after the credits start.  Make sure to stay for them as they really help to turn around an abrupt, slightly unsatisfying ending.

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