With films like The Expendables and Last Vegas clogging up the multiplexes, the cinema of nostalgia appears to be in full swing. Grudge Match is the second film of its kind starring Robert De Niro to be released in as many weeks in New Zealand, but thankfully it’s a bit more fun than last week’s abhorrent Last Vegas.
While some effort has been made to tell an actual story (unlike Last Vegas), existing goodwill for Misters Stallone and De Niro is necessary to really get involved here. The film’s gimmick builds on their status as cinema’s two most famous boxers, and relishes in mining every possible joke out of that dynamic.
Despite covering very similar territory in 2006’s Rocky Balboa, Stallone generates some pathos here – he can project a quiet humility when he wants to. I’ve not been a huge fan of De Niro’s efforts in the comedy arena over the last few decades, but Grudge Match benefits greatly by casting him as the more weaselly of the two men. He’s much more fun when he doesn’t have the moral high ground. There are several laughs apiece from solid supporting players Alan Arkin and Kevin Hart, and Jon Bernthal (The Wolf of Wall Street) is well-cast as De Niro’s estranged son.
Although it pretty much just revels in its own crapulence, I enjoyed Grudge Match. But unless you have long-standing cinematic love for both Sly and Bobby, stay far away.
‘Grudge Match’ Movie Times