If Raging Bull and Rocky had a grandchild it would be called Grudge Match, a comedy that pits Robert DeNiro against Sylvester Stallone in the boxing ring. They play two former boxing rivals who reunite — wrinkles and all — for a few bucks.
Though they portray new characters — Sly as a down-and-out factory prole, Bob as a car-selling playboy — our boxing heroes are milking their famous personas of Rocky Balboa and Jake LaMotta for laughs. There are a few too many old people jokes, but the script by Tim Kelleher and Rodney Rothman jabs and pokes at how weak and flawed our pugilists have become in old age.
Henry "Razor" Sharp (Stallone) lives in a dump in working-class Philadelphia, while Billy "The Kid" McDonnen (DeNiro) doesn't talk to his son or grandson, because he's too busy chasing women one-third his age. Their flaws save the film from predictability, but their rivalry over an old flame, played by a lovely Kim Basinger, is a tired cliché.
Movie fans wanted this boxing showdown 30 years ago, so this movie will either make you cringe or laugh; luckily, the film makes the latter more likely. Grudge Match doesn't take itself too seriously, and throws the audience enough left hooks to keep us on our toes.
The Blu-ray/DVD package lacks an audio commentary and doesn't tell us how the project came together, but offers a few amusing featurettes of comic Kevin Hart, who plays the young boxing promoter, plus a few outtakes with real-life boxing champs Mike Tyson and Larry Holmes, who make cameos in the film.
Most importantly we get alternate endings. Grudge Match doesn't end convincingly, so these endings offer the viewer other choices.