Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Robert De Niro, Kevin Hart, Kim Basinger, Alan Arkin
Directed by: Peter Segal
Run Time: 113 mins
Genre: Comedy/ Sport
Opens December 25th
By Lisa Minzey of The Reel Critic.com
Hey Phoenix Film Fans! Opening Christmas Day is a matchup of two Hollywood heavyweights in a physical type of role they made famous early in their respective careers. “Grudge Match” stars Robert De Niro, Sylvester Stallone and Kim Basinger. It has been over thirty years since their more famous boxing roles, but do the men have what it takes to pull off such a demanding role?
The first fight between Henry “Razor” Sharp and Billy “The Kid” McDonnen was March 27, 1982, the win going to McDonnen. The second fight was two years later which two things happened. The fight ruled the win to Razor and him walking away from the sport for good. To this day no one could figure out why there was never a rematch between The Kid and Razor to determine who was the better boxer. The Kid would taunt Razor in the media, but there was some sort of bad blood between them that Razor would never discuss.
Fast-forward thirty years; McDonnen is now the proud owner of several businesses that include a car dealership and sports bar, playing up his sports-god like image from his glory days. Sharp, on the other hand, when the money ran out, returned to his factory job and has been there ever since. When Sharp is approached by promoter Dante Slate Jr. (Kevin Hart), (his father was Sharp’s original promoter) to work on a video game featuring himself and McDonnen, Sharp vehemently declines. It’s not until he realizes that the mounting bills and support he’s been giving to his old coach Louis “Lightning” Conlon that he needs to do this job. Sharp accepts under one condition, he must not have contact with McDonnen at any cost. Slate agrees and upholds the terms, but McDonnen so desperate for a rematch, shows up to the job early, starting a fist fight, destroying the video game set.
Thanks to the power of the internet, Sharp and McDonnen are viral sensation, and whenever they are together in public some sort of scuffle happens. This brings the opportunity that McDonnen has been wanting for years, Slate managed to get enough sponsors interested to get a Grudge match going. At first Sharp refuses but then after the amount Slate is offering, the money is too good to refuse. Both men will need to get back into shape quickly but due to their age, if the fight even happens, will one walk away more damaged from before? Or will this fight is just what brings much needed to closure to both boxers?
At first glance, this may appear like “Rocky: The Senior Years”, but is much more clever than that. Approaching the role with humility and cheeky humor, Stallone and De Niro have great chemistry together as the aging boxing rivals and display how great of shape they are in for their age (despite the wrinkles and loose skin). This is an entertaining story that shows age is just a number and that goals can be reached no matter how long it takes. It was also refreshing to see Kim Basinger back on the silver screen, looking just as good as she did in “L.A. Confidential”. Here’s a fun fact; keep an eye out in the opening scenes as Basinger’s daughter Ireland plays a younger version of her character Sally. Alan Arkin, as always, is a scene stealer, even schooling Kevin Hart in the scenes they have together. Be sure to check out “Grudge Match” when it opens in theaters nationwide starting Wednesday December 25, 2013