James Canellos ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Rocky v. the Raging Bull, with a side of stale jokes. That is Grudge Match summed up in a sentence.
A more thorough summary would be that seasoned boxing rivals Henry ‘Razor’ Sharp (Sylvester Stallone) and Billy ‘The Kid’ McDonnen (Robert DeNiro) are persuaded to come out of retirement after thirty years and have a final match to settle the score. Henry’s doing it because he just got laid off at the factory he’s worked at for years and Billy’s doing it to satisfy the unsettled debate over which boxer is better.
Grudge Match is a film that tries way to hard to be something it’s not. It’s already a one-note joke having two iconic actors play the most memorable boxers in cinema, then have them square off when they’re way past their prime. Instead of sticking to a formula that could have provided slight entertainment director Peter Segal (The Longest Yard, 50 First Dates) once again forces too many heavy-handed issues into what should be a light comedy. His attempt to add tension to the characters is admirable, but it’s not necessary and the film suffers tremendously for it. The tone of the film is all over the place and feels too sporadic. Most of these issues are also incredibly predictable and offer nothing new to other films that tackle the conditions of athletes who are in the autumn of their years.
Another major issue is the comedic half of this film, It’s not that funny. They used most of their arsenal of gags in the trailers and the rest relies either on Stallone and DeNiro fighting with each other or Kevin Hart’s character using that high pitch scream of his. Heart was so poorly underused in this film. He’s a gifted comedian who could have made Grudge Match much funnier had he been given more screen time and not been the pun of short joke after short joke. All the screenwriters (Tim Kelleher and Rodney Rothman) did was rely on the same old man and fat jokes. It’s played out and not original in any way.
What really worked in the film were the scenes when Henry and Billy were promoting their fight. I wish the humiliating and often annoying acts fighters must perform just to sell tickets were an aspect of this film the director explored more. That was interesting and often funny, but these scenes were short lived. Something tells me that if Rocky or the Raging Bull saw this film they would want to take a whack at the screen.
Grudge Match: D