Gotta’ give it to the DeNiro and Sly, it was a slam-dunk winner all the way around.
With so many high-profile movies being released right now, from “The Wolf Of Wall Street” to “August Osage County” and “American Hustle,” a smaller indie film like “Grudge Match” may have some problems getting the traction it certainly deserves.
When I first heard about it, saw the trailers and the posters (which I first thought was for an actual fight), I didn’t think much, either.
DeNiro and Stallone play aging boxers who were supposed to fight some 30 years ago. At the last moment, Stallone’s character, Henry “Razor” Sharp, pulled out.
Years later, Henry is a laid-off steel mill worker. DeNiro’s character, Billy “The Kid” McDonnen, owns a bar and a car dealership. But both still thirst for a return to the ring to ultimately decide who’s the best fighter.
Through a series of events, the pair reunite with Stallone’s former girlfriend Sally Rose, played by Kim Basinger. Now 60 and looking spot-on terrific, Kim is perfect for the part and so good it, it makes you wonder why she’s been absent from the big screen for so long.
In any event, it seems Rose gave birth to a son after a one-nighter with McDonnen, and shows up with the now grown boy after the two men re-unite.
Alan Arkin, who plays Sharp’s former trainer, Lightning, steps up to the task again. For the record, Arkin comes close to stealing the picture.
An acting legend for sure, his work here, as in last year’s CIA thriller, “Argo,” is stupendous.
Jon Bernthal plays B.J., McDonnen’s son, who becomes his dad’s trainer.
Barry Primus, a close DeNiro associate (1992’s Night And The City) is the barkeep at McDonnen’s bar and is terrific. He’s been a presence on both the big screen and small screen for years and is a terrific anchor.
Comedian Kevin Hart is also perfectly cast as the son of the original promoter for the fights; he re-appears to stage the re-union while delivering some hilarious dialogue.
Director Peter Segal (“Anger Management,” “50 First Dates”) has delivered a great movie.
Writers Tim Kelleher and Rodney Rothman deliver a script with many, many tender moments.
I know I’ll be trashed for saying this, but the old boys still have it.
DeNiro glows with an intensity and sincerity I’ve not seen from him in years. Stallone is spot-on perfect as the tired and wounded warrior. You can’t watch him and not think of all the Rocky movies.
This movie may not receive all recognition it deserves, but it is a gem. It opens in theaters on Christmas Day.
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