At 70 and 67 years young, respectively, Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone don’t seem to be slowing down much in terms of acting. While De Niro seems to pop up in almost everything, Stallone has managed to stay in the spotlight with the Expendables franchise. So, moviegoers shouldn’t be surprised to see the two share the screen together as retired fighters in the boxing comedy Grudge Match this Christmas, especially considering both legends have had iconic roles as professional fighters – Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull and Rocky Balboa in Rocky 1-6.
Grudge Match tells the story of the boxing rivalry between Pittsburgh brawlers Billy “The Kid” McDonnen (De Niro) and Henry “Razor” Sharp (Stallone). They fought twice in their prime, with each man scoring a victory, but before they could square off for one last decisive bout, Sharp suddenly announced his retirement in 1983, prompting McDonnen to hang up the gloves as well. However, 30 years later, the two bitter rivals – now old curmudgeons- are convinced by a persuasive promoter (Kevin Hart) to jump back in the ring to settle things once and for all.
The film is directed by Peter Segal (Get Smart) and written by Tim Kelleher and Rodney Rothman based on Kelleher’s original story. Along with its two elder leads and comedian Kevin Hart (Think Like a Man), the film stars Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead) as The Kid’s untested trainer, Alan Arkin (Argo) as Razor’s former trainer and Kim Basinger (L.A. Confidential) as Razor’s former love. See the cast at work in the debut trailer above.
While it would appear these actors have played these parts before, Raging Bull or Rocky this film is not. In Grudge Match, sparring – both physical and verbal – is played for comedic effect, and in the trailer, there are actually quite a few laughs to be had. The premise certainly sets up plenty of “I’m too old for this”-type one-liners, but the majority of the humor in the clip comes from professional funnyman Hart and Arkin.
Of course, the film’s biggest draw is the match-up between the two leads. Amazingly, Stallone still looks like he could really fight, whereas De Niro…well, maybe not so much. However, even that bit is referenced in the trailer, proving that the film is aware of where its laughs should come from.
For fans of the two leads, the most enjoyable part of the trailer (and possibly the movie) will likely be the not-so-subtle nods to their classic boxing films, including Stallone’s character training in the Rocky meat locker and De Niro’s character gaining weight after retirement, a la Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull.
Will you be seeing De Niro and Stallone duke it out in Grudge Match? Let us know in the comments.
Grudge Match hits theaters Christmas Day, 2013.