"Grudge Match" Review: Craig's First Take

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A pair of aging boxing rivals are coaxed out of retirement to fight one final bout -- 30 years after their last match.
1.5

Just when you thought awful was taking the holiday off, Robert DeNiro (“The Big Wedding”, “The Family”, and “Last Vegas”) does another comedy. Much like “Vegas”, “Grudge Match” takes cheap, C-grade pot-shots at the old (here the short, fat, stupid, and black don’t escape either) but where “Vegas” may have been some breezy fun for people of a certain age, I can’t tell exactly who this geriatric boxing film is for. Directed by Peter Segal, its one of the worst ideas of the year.

It centers on the boxing rivalry between Kid (DeNiro) and Razor (Stallone), which ended with Razor announcing retirement with their number of wins tied at one a piece. The grudge has continued for 30 years though, a product of Kid sleeping with Razor’s girlfriend (Kim Basinger) at the time. When both are persuaded to take part in a boxing video game by Dante (Kevin Hart), the son of their former promoter, a fight breaks out and youtube views heat up, encouraging Dante to set up a deciding fight. Jon Bernthal, playing Kid’s neglected adult son, and Alan Arkin are taken on as their trainers.

Not so much funny as repetitious and irritating, screenwriters Rodney Rothman and Tim Kelleher knock- off easy jokes like they’re going out of style (and lets face it, these jokes have been told so often that out-of style is really the operative word). DeNiro takes the butt of the overweight, out of shape jokes. Hart the butt of the short, black jokes. Arkin is the oldest, which means we’re supposed to be surprised at the crude, profane mouth on him; and almost every one of his lame jokes is prefaced with him saying “Hey, i’m an old man” as if that’s enough to make them funnier. Stallone meanwhile takes quite a few old jokes, but interestingly the HGH that seems to define much of his body now is off limits apparently.

Jokes about Life alert, “I’ve fallen and can’t get up”, and Ben Gay are just a few of the highlights(?) here. We see the guys train, intercut with sloppily handled promotional events (why have them sing the National Anthem if they don’t know it? Why have them go to a UFC event if they think it’s girly?) and predictable personal drama (Kid must learn to be a responsible grandparent, Razor to trust his girlfriend again) and then we get to the boxing match which is neither choreographed well or surprising, discounting these guys are even doing another boxing movie at their age to begin with.