What to Expect from Stallone and De Niro's "Grudge Match"

Photo Credit: Lionsgate
October 26th, 2012

What to Expect from Stallone and De Niro's "Grudge Match"

-- Rating: To be determined
Directed By: Peter Segal
Length: To be determined
Genre: Comedy
Release date: 2013

If you have ever wondered who would win in a boxing match between Jake LaMotta and Rocky Balboa, you may get your answer in 2013. The movie "Grudge Match" has been green-lit by Warner Bros. and is currently in pre-production. The film will star Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone. Kevin Hart has also signed on to play a role in the comedy. The screenplay was written by Tim Kelleher and Doug Ellin, and Peter Segal will direct.

There is not a lot of information available about the plot, but what is known is that De Niro and Stallone are both retired boxers who fought each other earlier in the careers, and they are coaxed out of retirement to fight each other one more time. Kevin Hart plays the promoter for the match.

Stallone became a Hollywood star after his portrayal of Rocky Balboa, and went on to star in a plethora of movies, from dramas and thrillers to comedies. Some of his more popular films include "Rambo," "Cliffhanger," "Tango and Cash" opposite Kurt Russell, "Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot," with Estelle Getty, and "Judge Dredd." De Niro was already a Hollywood star by the time he took on the role of Jake LaMotta in "Raging Bull." Prior to his Oscar-winning performance, he starred in "Taxi Driver," "Mean Streets," "Bang the Drum Slowly," "The Godfather," and "The Deerhunter."

Some critics and fans are raising an eyebrow about the movie, mainly because of the ages of De Niro and Stallone, 69 and 66 respectively, and the physiques (or lack thereof) of the actors. However, Stallone stays in shape because he is still doing action movies such as "The Expendables" and "The Expendables 2." De Niro has stated that although he doesn't believe he can recreate the six-pack he had when he played Jake LaMotta, he doesn't plan to enter the ring completely out-of-shape. Also, since this is a movie about retired fighters, the fact that De Niro is out of shape isn't really that much of an issue. Since "Grudge Match" is a comedy, the differences in appearance between De Niro and Stallone could make for some laughs.

Physical conditions aside, attempting to make this movie anything but a comedy would be a mistake. It would be almost impossible to match, let alone surpass, the drama and intensity of "Raging Bull." And although the "Rocky" movies were more warm and fuzzy than serious, they still had a strong element of drama. Tampering with the characters of Balboa and LaMotta would be an insult to both of the iconic characters. Although comparisons will be made, the difference in genre will make viewers forget, at least for the duration of the film, that these two actors played two of the greatest boxing characters in dramas ever.

"Grudge Match" will be the second pairing of Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro on the big screen. In 1997 they starred opposite each in "Cop Land." Stallone played Sheriff Freddy Heflin, and De Niro played Moe Tilden, the Internal Affairs officer who comes to the town where Heflin is sheriff to investigate what appears to be a NYPD cover-up involving the officers who live in Heflin's town.

Stallone and De Niro are not the only people attached to this film with stellar Hollywood careers. Comedian Kevin Hart also received praise for his roles in "Death at a Funeral," "Little Fockers," and "Think Like a Man." Those on the other side of the camera have seen some success as well. Director Peter Segal has directed hit comedies including "Tommy Boy," "My Fellow Americans," "50 First Dates," the Adam Sandler remake of "The Longest Yard," "Anger Management," and "Get Smart." Writer Tim Kelleher has seen success as a comedy writer for "The Pat Sajak Show," "The Arsenio Hall Show," "In Living Color," "Empty Nest," and the movie "First Kid." Doug Ellin is most known as the writer for the short-lived comedy "Life with Bonnie," starring Bonnie Hunt, and as the creator and writer for the very successful dramedy, "Entourage."

"Grudge Match" has the makings of a very good movie. It will be interesting to see who else in Hollywood signs on to do the film, and how the plot is actually fleshed out. But with Stallone, De Niro, and Hart attached to the film, along with the more-than-capable production team, it is safe to bet the movie will have big Hollywood appeal and an even larger box office draw.