grudge_match_ver2

 

Director:  Peter Segal
Writers: Tim Kelleher and Rodney Rothman
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Robert DeNiro, Kim Basinger, Kevin Hart and Alan Arkin
Studio: Warner Brothers

“Grudge Match” wants to matter. But, it’s the latest entry into the world of old man cinema. While I get the push to release the film at Christmas, I can’t say that the film needed to exist. I love sports cinema, but do we need to have another tale of old men beating the odds to prove that they are as relevant as the young? The usual tropes are there. The guys are trying to recapture glory, while appreciating what they have. There’s an old manager, illegitimate kid and an old girlfriend returning to the scene. Feelings are high and the tension grows even higher.

Stallone and DeNiro are better than this. Well, they were thirty years ago. Now, DeNiro is trying to gain credibility back while Stallone is just trying to get movies made. You have to respect that they can still command a Holiday picture. Regardless of what it might seem, I’m not hoping for either actor to fall on their face. I grew up in a time where Rambo and “Raging Bull” were the order of the day. That being said, it becomes easy to fall on audience familiarity. Is there new room to carve out with a comedy about two aging boxers? Maybe, but I doubt that it could carry a feature.

Boxing has always been a crutch for American cinema. Whether it involves tragedy or comedy, American audiences love to see people struggle to learn how to participate in organized violence. But, there’s a beauty to the pugilistic scene. Boxers are usually working class low-rent slobs that do what they can to make ends meet. They are loveable heroes that remind us of the eternal struggle to break even. Sometimes, their managers steal their money and their bodies fail them. Audiences eat that up, since they want somebody that they can self-identity. Naturally, it’s a fit for an older audience.

Still, there needs to be a film for older viewers around the holidays. These guys proved their worth by allowing “The Lincoln Lawyer” to break even at the box office. These older viewers crave a story that allows them to measure their life against a fantasy well worth living. The problem is that it’s a farce and close-examination shows the flaws of this mindset. Old boxers don’t reunite for one last fight, they crumble and decay. But, I doubt that we’re ever going to see that onscreen. That’s why I’ve got to recommend skipping the film.

RELEASE DATE: 12/25/2013

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