Running Time: 1 hour 53 minutes
During their primes, Henry “Razor” Sharp (Sylvester Stallone) and Billy “The Kid” McDonnen (Robert DeNiro) were the two best Light Heavyweight fighters in the world and bitter rivals. After splitting their first two fights, they were poised for a lucrative 3rd fight when Sharp suddenly retired, walking away from millions of dollars and leaving the rivalry unsettled. 30 years later Sharp and McDonnen find themselves in disparate circumstances, with Sharp broke and working on the docks, while McDonnen is a wealthy business owner and local hero. Even with his success, McDonnen has never stopped dreaming of a chance to settle things between himself and Sharp. After a video of the two of them brawling in a recording studio goes viral, interest in a third fight between them starts to rekindle and Sharp’s dire financial situation finally lures him back into the ring for a Grudge Match.
This movie was a surprising amount of fun and it had a lot more warmth than I was expecting. The relationship between Stallone and Alan Arkin is very caring and tender, but full of ball busting humor. Kevin Hart kept things light and generated laughs every time he was on screen without getting shrill like he has in movies in the past. DeNiro looked like he was having a great time and had a good rapport with Jon Bernthal, who plays his estranged son. Everyone involved understood the kind of movie this needed to be and it worked.
Obviously the plot is a little farfetched and the boxing scenes don’t hold up to Raging Bull or Rocky, but they don’t linger too long on those scenes. The worst part of Grudge Match for me was when the movie stalled on Stallone’s sad-sack storyline. You want to cheer for your protagonist, not pity him. Grudge Match is clearly a flawed movie, but it gets an awful lot right. B