‘Grudge Match,’ reviewed by Marshall Fine


A few years back, a practice known as “bum fights” – in which young adults would pay homeless men to brawl with each other, then post videos on the Internet – shocked sentient adults for its cruelty, callousness and what it said about the breakdown of the social contract.

Now, of course, we elect Tea Party legislators to promote the same sort of agenda.

Or, in the case of Hollywood, we pay millions to retirement-age movie stars to strip down and fight each other and call that entertainment – in this case, “Grudge Match,” a limp comedy with half a heart starring Robert De Niro (70) and Sylvester Stallone (67).

Seriously: Who wants to watch either of these guys, stripped to the waist and working up a sweat? Sure, Stallone looks pretty fit for his age – or leathery, depending on your take. De Niro, too, isn’t alarmingly out of shape – but still, the flesh doesn’t lie when it comes to age, particularly in these circumstances.

But that’s just the aesthetics of what must have seemed like an irresistible pitch: “Hey, we’ll put Rocky Balboa in the ring with Jake LaMotta.” Except, of course, that their prime in those roles was 30-plus years ago.

Unfortunately, the script for this film is never sharp or savvy enough to counteract both the ick factor – two grandfathers beating each other up in boxing trunks – and just the simple lackluster quality of it all.

But then Peter Segal is a journeyman director, responsible for several Adam Sandler films (itself reason enough to lift his DGA card). Writers Tim Kelleher and Rodney Rothman have written such stellar fare as “First Kid” and “Two and a Half Men.” Why would you expect more?

This review continues on my website.

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