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Grudge Match, on its surface, looks like little more than “Rocky versus Raging Bull,” with one-time silver-screen boxers Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro getting into the ring for director Peter Segal’s feature. The new poster, which arrived via the film’s Facebook page, paints Grudge Match as a drama. Man, how I wish that were the case.
Maybe I should have realized, given Segal’s track record – his resume includes several Adam Sandler vehicles, from 50 First Dates and Anger Management to the Longest Yard remake – that Grudge Match was going to exploit its Hollywood veterans for easy laughs. Also, comedian Kevin Hart gets as much run in the advertising campaigns for as bona-fide dramatic actors Kim Basinger and Alan Arkin.
But it was the Grudge Match trailer that ultimately tipped me off to the fact that this movie wants to be Meet the Parents or The Bucket List more than it wants to be Rocky or Raging Bull … films that had something meaningful to say about boxing and the men who compete in the sport. Have you seen the clip yet? Check it out below:
Stallone actually has been keeping in shape thanks to multiple Expendables movies and this weekend’s Escape Plan. The sight of 70-year-old De Niro in that green jumpsuit ready to record his part of a video game makes me sad. Watching these guys reclaim their alleged boxing “glory” throws me into a deep state of depression. I’d rather just play as Rocky Balboa in the various video game versions that have been in stores over the years!
The video game angle, by the way, was played in a better fashion in Stallone’s respectable Rocky sendoff, Rocky Balboa … but I digress. Grudge Match sets its sights on crowd-pleasing, and Hart rips off a handful of winning one-liners. With a Christmas Day release, Match easily could connect with Parental Guidance and The Guilt Trip-type audiences who want an antidote to somber awards contenders like Out of the Furnace or August: Osage County. How about that poster? Is it a one-sheet you’d want hanging on your wall?