Grudge Match

Year 2013

Sylvester Stallone   as  Henry 'Razor' Sharp
Alan Arkin as Louis 'Lightning' Conlon
Robert De Niro as Billy 'The Kid' McDonnen  
Kim Basinger as Sally
Jon Bernthal as B.J.
Director - Peter Segal
Screenwriters - Tim Kelleher
  - Rodney Rothman

Somewhere between grubby and gruesome is Grudge Match. It's a boxing comedy. The premise is that two fighters met twice in their prime and split the wins. After the second fight, one of them decided not to return to the ring. The rubber match was never fought until... In their golden years, they need money and decide to finally meet again. Their relationship to each other and to the world is what supposedly keeps this movie moving. What really keeps this movie moving is Alan Arkin's mouth.

Stallone plays Henry 'Razor' Sharp, a cuckholded man who just quit fighting and became a blue collar worker. Think Rocky, but from Pittsburg. De Niro plays Billy 'The Kid' McDonnen who made a career boxing but never grew up. Think Jake LaMotta, but from Pittsburg.

So, there are jokes based on Rocky and on Raging Bull. The Rocky jokes are funnier. The Raging Bull jokes are more depressing and more vicious.

Here are two examples. The first is from Rocky. Razor is getting ready to start punching a side of beef. Lightning tells him, "Hey! What're you doing? We're just here to buy a little dinner. You don't have to punch everything." And the Raging Bull joke takes place at McDonnen's restaurant where he's on stage like LaMotta. A large andogynous woman is heckling him and he refers to her as, "Sir".

Kevin Hart plays their promotor Dante Slate, Jr., so of course there are the mandatory racial slurs against white people. Why does every black character in every movie have to make a crack about white people? Here it's everything from, "I'll never understand white people," to his child wanting a bar mitzvah because of going to school with white people. Not only is it not funny, it's stereotype stale.

What was nearly a deal breaker for me was the innuendo scene when a bj was explained as "butterscotch jelly beans" for the benefit of an eight year old. The child Trey, played by a very annoying Camden Gray, started talking about how much he liked butterscotch jelly beans. De Niro practically cackled. You know, that look of his when he sort of sticks his tongue out. This was in response to an eight year old wanting candy when everyone else is mentally substituting sex for the candy. Maybe De Niro's next role should be as pedophile serial killer John Wayne Gacy. It made me want to wash with Brillo.

North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) gives De Niro's character two thumbs up.

Kim Basinger plays the love interest. She's right down there with Angelina Jolie in terms of sleaze. Married to that suave and debonair Alec Baldwin, shacked up with macho-man Prince, did the morally uplifting 9 1/2 Weeks with Mickey Rourke, and lately the family film The Door in the Floor. Here she's playing the part of a girlfriend who sleeps with someone she hates to get revenge upon the person she loves. It's no crazier than anything else she's ever done.

It's certainly not crazier than the thinking behind the scene where De Niro gets interrupted by Trey while attempting to have sex with someone (a girl at least) a third of his age (she's past puberty which is a plus for De Niro/McDonnen) in the back of an Escalade.

And speaking of Trey, why choose that name? It means the third. As in Senior, Junior, Trey. Who uses it as a first name? Maybe if you're the third child or the third in line to be king or something. But Trey without any reference? Since the boy's an only child, it makes no sense.

Then there's Jon Bernthal who is supposed to be the offspring of De Niro and Basinger. He doesn't look like either of them. Not even close. Still, he's a good actor. The movie would suffer even further if Jon Bernthal wasn't in it.

There is one funny rape joke because there's no threat of rape. De Niro and Stallone are in prison in adjoining cells. De Niro won't shut up. Stallone asks De Niro's cellmates, "When are you guys going to gang rape him so I can get some rest?"

For the most part, the movie is funny because of Alan Arkin. Lightning (Arkin) and Slate (Hart) do not get along. At one point, Lightning refers to the short Slate as Webster. There's a scene where Lightning gets Sharp to toughen his hands by using horse urine. He says, "I'm kidding. It's vinegar." Then Arkin goes on a roll with, "It's urine," and, "It's vinegar," and Stallone plays along.

There's nothing likable about McDonnen. Sharp is almost likable. What amazed me is that Stallone is much better in his role than De Niro is in his.

It's a standard plot with some offensive scenes, but there are some laughs in this movie. The style of humor isn't much different than Identity Thief but the calibre of the acting from Arkin and Stallone makes this one funny more often than not.

There's profanity, blasphemy, racism, and pedophile humor. No nudity. It's not for children. It's not for a date. It's not for you unless you're a Stallone or Arkin fan.

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