It's a little annoying that this high-concept marketing project (Rocky vs Raging Bull!) is as entertaining as it is: we want to hate it, as tired actors are sending up their own faded images. But while the script never even tries to be something interesting, it at least gives the stars some engaging scenes to work with. And we can't help but cheer for them in the end.
The film stars with a bit of history (and digital trickery), as young bucks Henry "Razor" Sharp and Billy "The Kid" McDonnen (Stallone and De Niro) battle it out back in 1982. Local fans in Pittsburgh are divided between them and are hugely disappointed when, at the peak of their fame, Razor suddenly retires before a climactic rematch. Now some 30 years later, a young promoter (Hart) decides to finally get them back together in the ring. But this stirs up an old feud involving Kid's affair with Razor's wife Sally (Basinger), which resulted in a son BJ (Bernthal), who's now a father himself. Can these two men possibly work together to promote their epic grudge match?
Silly question. Of course they start off gruffly snarling at each other but eventually find the expected mutual respect. And that's about the extent of the acting required of these two iconic stars. Add some fast-talking comedy from Hart, veteran battiness from Arkin, steely femininity from Basinger and soulfulness from Bernthal and the film at least has a veneer of complexity. But aside from wondering whether the filmmakers will fudge the final match so no one loses (they don't), there isn't much to worry about.
Continue reading: Grudge Match Review