It's ironic that the characters Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone play in this film resemble pretty much their current careers. Both had a great run in the 80's, but they have made some poor career choices over the past decade (with the exception of De Niro's supporting roles in David O. Russell's movies), and this was another painful choice they made. I feel sorry for young audiences that never got to experience these two great actors in the peek of their careers, Robert De Niro's work with Scorsese being the true definition of greatness. It's rather unfortunate that their most iconic characters, Stallone as Rocky and De Niro as La Motta, are the actual ones that are being made fun of here. If made with grace I wouldn't have a problem with it, but there is no substance to this film and everything felt pointless. They banked the entire success of the film on marketing it solely on these legendary characters, but they didn't give it any substance. Grudge Match is lazy film making at its fullest and the talented cast is completely misused.
The premise of this film is pretty simple as it follows the general conventions of most sport comedies. A huge boxing rivalry took place during the 80's involving two fighters that hated each other. The first time these two men were in the ring together the victory went to Billy "The Kid" (Robert De Niro) after a long hard battle, but the rematch was easily won by Razor Sharp (Sylvester Stallone). The fans along with The Kid demanded one final fight, but Razor decided to quit boxing after his girlfriend Sally (Kim Basinger) had an affair with Billy that left her pregnant. Now 30 years later after a youtube video of a grudge between the two retired boxers goes viral, a promoter named Dante Slate (Kevin Hart) convinces the two to give the fans what they want. Razor finally accepts because he needs the money to help his trainer, Lightning (Alan Arkin), who in exchange also promises to train him for the fight. The Kid on the other hand decides to train with his son, B.J. (Jon Bernthal), who he just met. Sally also shows up asking Razor to forgive her for what she did. The stage is finally set for the grand finale between these two aging boxers.
There were very few genuinely funny moments in Grudge Match, but I wouldn't blame the performances. I still consider De Niro and Stallone to be great actors, it's just the material they choose to work with what I have a problem with. Director, Peter Segal, who is known mostly for his collaborations with Adam Sandler, doesn't seem to add anything to this film other than trying to capitalize on the two iconic films I've mentioned. The buildup for the final fight doesn't work either and the dull jokes don't help the pacing of the film either. Arkin and Hart have some funny lines, but they are just too spread out and way to few for such an overlong film. The film targets a senior audience, but I don't think they will be too pleased to see their beloved iconic films treated like this in such a poorly written screenplay.