"Grudge Match": Stallone and De Niro Go 12 Rounds, No One Wins

Presented with a sports comedy starring Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone as cantankerous out-to-pasture boxing rivals, will your expectations be raised or lowered by knowing that its director, Peter Segal, is the man responsible for the Adam Sandler remake of The Longest Yard? Oh, never mind; Grudge Match isn't really an expectations kind of movie anyway, and actually it isn't half bad. For what it is. These two Pittsburgh pugilists have been pissed at each other for 30 years, and there is a woman, played a little helplessly by Kim Basinger, who once came between them. This all seems like reason enough for a young fight promoter, played by a mugging Kevin Hart, to set up their "Grudgement Day" rematch. Sentimental family subplots and multiple training montages ensue. Along with a few genuinely funny moments. Segal doesn't resist the canned schmaltz of Tim Kelleher and Rodney Rothman's script, and neither do the stars. Stallone wears his testy old-man melancholy with touching conviction, and De Niro makes the art of paycheck collection seem downright generous, like he's doing an event for charity. Similarly, Stallone's trainer is played by Alan Arkin, who lately seems to come running to the dinner bell of geriatric shtick, but that doesn't mean he can't please a crowd.

 
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