Grudge Match

Grudge Match

  • Forgettably average, Grudge Match capitalizes on a compelling cast and a positive idea, but it falters on a weak script.
  • All of the biggest stars are gamely solid. Stallone, De Niro, Bassinger, Arkin, LL Cool J, Kevin Hart. All are good, though not great. They hold the screen, keep us interested, buy attention.
  • Playing B.J, Jon Bernthal gives the best performance in this movie. B.J. is not well developed, but Bernthal still makes him more interesting than the other characters.
  • The plot is predictable and borderline cliche, but it is not so offensive as to completely drag down the film.
  • Mostly because Grudge Match is funny. Hart, Arkin, De Niro, Stallone and B.J’s son (Camden Grey) take turns making us laugh, ensuring we are amused by their antics.
  • Which is a good thing, because even the central characters are underdeveloped. Neither Billy McDonnen (De Niro) nor Henry Sharp (Stallone) are given enough treatment to move beyond archetype. Sally Rose (Bassinger) is without personality, serving only to inspire Sharp, to give him precisely what he wants.
  • And B.J. eventually makes a decision most devoted parents would never make, no matter Billy’s pleading and too-little-too-late emotional gestures. Worse, B.J. makes this decision without the slightest explanation from Director Peter Segal and the movie’s three credited writers.
  • While the actor’s costumes are interesting and help us understand these characters, and while the camera is sometimes placed cleverly, none of Grudge Match’s technical elements stand out as spectacular.
  • Badly developed characters. A formulaic plot. Unspectacular technical elements.  Grudge Match succumbs to all of these, which means it should fail, should fall apart.
  • But it doesn’t, because no matter its flaws, it is always fun. Sometimes that’s enough.
  • Final Grade: C-

16 thoughts on “Grudge Match

  1. Everybody in this cast all try, but the movie itself just really brings them down and has them deliver some very, very dumb lines. At least some of them remain charming enough to save the day. Mainly Kevin Hart and Alan Arkin. Good review.

    • It’s in theaters now and has a pretty wide release, but it hasn’t been marketed all that heavily, probably because critics haven’t responded positively (25% on Rotten Tomatoes). The movie is definitely flawed, but it is also fun.

  2. I’m a fan of Jon Bernthal from The Walking Dead series so its good to see him get work on the big screen. He definitely looks more like DeNiro’s son compared to Bradley Cooper in SLP. I haven’t watched Grudge Match yet but I’m not in any rush either. Good review James.

    • Thanks. I have never watched The Walking Dead, so didn’t have much previous exposure to Bernthal. He’s really good here.

      And you’re not missing much by putting this off.

  3. That’s a pity that it’s fairly unmemorable but I suppose I wouldn’t expect much else. I like the star pairing and the idea behind these aging sporting heroes coming back but it feels like a bit of a cash-in to be honest. And that puts me off.

    • It probably is a bit of a cash in. But it’s also fun enough to still hold attention. If the stats appeal to you, and you can ignore the silly script mistakes, you might enjoy it enough to make it worthy your time. 😉

  4. I felt pretty much the same about it. I did like the fact that you found the one good poster for this movie and used it. The others were atrocities, this one is inspired by old time boxing promos.

    • Thanks. It was definitely my favorite of the posters, as well.

      As to the movie … A couple weeks later and I’m already forgetting it. Forgettably average, indeed.

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