Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Quick Review: Grudge Match

Version I Watched: Redbox rental, theatrical cut. No extended cut around.

History: Not much history available or interesting connected to this movie. The plot is clearly a comedic perspective on how both Stallone and De Niro were in boxing movies a long time ago, and now this is their 'VS' movie in a way. The movie was released Christmas Day 2013. Despite the big names and strong supporting cast (including Kevin Hart and Alan Arkin) the movie was a box office disappointment. It cost $40 Million and that's pretty much what it made back and some change. On top of this the movie received mostly negative reviews from critics. It currently holds a 29% on Rotten Tomatoes, on the other hand it hold a 6.6/10 on IMDB.

Personal History: First viewing. Didn't know much of anything about it before watching.

Review: It's the rematch everyone's been waiting fo........ oh.... maybe not everyone was.....

When I first saw the posters for this movie I didn't know what to make of it. I did think what everyone else was thinking. "Looks like Rocky vs Raging Bull." Something that's pretty obvious and if one of these actors didn't want to do it or weren't available it likely wouldn't have happened. I should have figured it was a comedy right from the start since no one would have taken this concept seriously. But when I did find out it was a comedy I was happy about that. I decided I wanted to see it but never got around to it theatrically.
Yeah, I actually anticipated seeing this. I thought it could be pretty dang funny! I've mostly seen Stallone in action and whatnot but De Niro has made me laugh plenty of times. I knew he had it in him. Also, the movie was directed by Peter Segal. He directed not amazing comedies, but movies that have made me laugh. Including Get Smart, The Nutty Professor II, and The Naked Gun 33 1/3. All in all the movie had the possibility of being pretty funny.
But of course the world tends to make it difficult to enjoy things it doesn't like. This movie is in a long line of movies the internet bashes because it stars old guys who used to be action stars. Sure it's a heck of a lot harder to be an action star when you're in your late 60s but it doesn't mean it can't be done. While I didn't like The Last Stand or Bullet to the Head, I did like Escape Plan and both Expendable movies. Still the world seems to have a stick up it's butt and can't accept the fact these old guys still have fans. Some of which are my age, not just the people who saw Rocky in theatres when it first came out.

Now it's a bit in my nature to root for the underdog so that's one of the reasons why I still support the stuff these old guys do. I still think they have the ability to be awesome and are fighting to get that chance. That's why it's a bit sad when I think about what this movie wound up being compared to what it could have been.
First off, the plot feels like it came out of the 80s. Seriously. The flow, the length, the way everything played out felt out of date and cliche. Two old boxing rivals are approached with fighting one last fight that the sports world has been waiting 30 years for. While one is all for it (De Niro) the other (Stallone) has a sense of pride or privacy or some bullshit and doesn't want to do it. Then he thinks about how broke his ass is and decides to go through with it.
Oh! Also the directions each of them took in life was a bit too predictable. De Niro became a high flying spokesperson who only cares about money and sleeping around. While Stallone went blue collar and now can't help but think of what could have been if it weren't for the mistakes and betrayals of his past. It was about as opposite as opposites could get in every way you expected them to.
What resulted out of this is, much like some comedies of the 80s, were changes in tone faster than your slow ass running to an outlet when you see your computer's battery is almost dead. It was goofy, goofy, goofy, goofy, dead serious for a few moments, goofy, goofy, dead serious, etc. Thankfully it wasn't as heavy or jarring as some other movies but there were still there and still unwelcome. It didn't help the laughs didn't start coming in until later in the movie.
I did laugh at this movie. There were plenty of funny parts. It's just a shame they took a while to come around. The first half of the movie was a slow burn with a few chuckles here and there and a lot of "you're old" jokes. One of the ongoing jokes being the disconnect between young and old with technology. Some bits were based on the fact Stallone and De Niro's characters didn't know what viral meant and so forth. A style of joke that is usually done to death and stops being funny pretty quickly. But they kept bringing back the viral aspects of the story, where most of the publicity is about these two screwing up at public events or promotions.

Still somehow through all that crap I was able to find some laughs. Not outrageous laughs, but some good laughs none the less. Part of the fun was how I was watching it with my dad and we had some good commentary on it. Not really making fun of it. Talking about it as it was happening which made the laughs a little bigger. So if you watch it with a friend it may get more laughs than if you're alone. Still it is a shame it couldn't have been funnier. Not to mention there were some wasted opportunities. People being underused.
Alan Arkin is a brilliant actor who can do so much. Yet I felt he did little to nothing outside of being Stallone's old buddy/trainer. But aside from being the old guy Stallone is helping financially I felt he didn't have a lot of weight in the story. So much more! Then there's Kevin Hart who is a VERY funny guy. He was used even less even though he's billed as the fast talking promoter of the fight. Yet in the end, a lot like Alan Arkin, I felt he didn't have a lot to do in the movie or have as much of an impact. Sure he helped promote them, but a lot of what Stallone and De Niro did by accident got them more promotion than Kevin Hart's work. Instead we are forced to be invested in characters that were hard to care about. Stallone's ex and De Niro's long lost son.
It was so hard to care cause I knew how it all was gonna play out. Stallone still has feelings for Kim Basinger (who looks about as good as Stallone) but is still holding onto the fact she cheated on him with De Niro 30 years earlier. But because of that hook up she had a bastard of a son with De Niro who didn't know about it until now. AND of course this unknown son has a son and they're trying to finally connect with De Niro. But of course De Niro is gonna do something to make his previously unknown son walk out, causing conflict. Blah-de-blah-de-blah you know the deal. If you ask me these can still be there but maybe focus elsewhere. We know their lives are falling or have fallen apart. So maybe cut some of that stuff out and focus more on the politics of the sports world. Give a different perspective we know will be present. Instead we get two guys bitching at each other for an hour and a half, then they fight, and that's about it.

This really could have been a better movie. The direction it took was just too much of a shame. Focus less on some of the oversaturated stuff and more on stuff we barely saw. This is a sports movie right? I can't believe I'm saying this (cause I'm not a sports guy) but couldn't we have had more sports?

Still if you've got an empty afternoon and need a Redbox double feature, you could do much worse. It has it's laughs and charms. It's clever from time to time with some likable characteristics. Just not worth too much over the rental fee. At least it has that going for it.

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