Grudge Match, film review: 'Clunky comedy is new nadir for Robert DeNiro'

The screenplay is as sclerotic and slow moving as its two punch drunk leads

It’s disheartening to see Robert De Niro, the most formidable screen actor of his generation, smirking his way through so many clunky comedies late in his career.

This must represent a new nadir. His character Kid is a Jake La Motta-like boxer, retired and running a car dealership in Pittsburgh. The increasingly mastodon-like Sylvester Stallone rehashes yet again his Chuck Wepner-like American everyman routine as Kid’s old rival, Razor, now fallen on hard times and in a factory job.

Inevitably, the ancient fighters are prised out of retirement for a final “grudge match.” Equally inevitably, there is a woman involved (Kim Basinger as the aging femme fatale who loved one but had a child with the other.)

The screenplay is as sclerotic and slow moving as its two punch drunk leads.

It takes a small eternity actually to manoeuvre De Niro and Stallone back into the ring together. There are some compensations along the way. Alan Arkin is in typically mischievous form as Stallone’s venerable trainer and look out for the jaw dropping cameos at the final credits from Evander Holyfield and his ear-biting old rival Mike Tyson.

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