Sexagenarians Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro are set for some serious fisticuffs, now that Warner Bros. has greenlit their boxing comedy Grudge Match. The film will be directed by Peter Segal (The Longest Yard, Get Smart), working from the most recent script draft written by Doug Ellin (creator of Entourage).
The story revolves around two former professional boxing rivals (Stallone and De Niro, who previously shared the screen in Cop Land), who are now crotchety old men enjoying their retirement. However, the opportunity to square-off one more time in the ring proves too tempting for the curmudgeonly ex-brawlers. Cue the wacky training montages!
Deadline reports that Kevin Hart (Think Like a Man) has been cast as the fight promoter who convinces Stallone and De Niro to come out of retirement for one final bout in the ring. Producers include Segal’s go-to collaborator Michael Ewing, in addition to Billy Gerber (The Dukes of Hazzard, Gran Torino) and Mark Steven Johnson (the screenwriter on both Grumpy Old Men movies and director of When in Rome).
Based on those collective credentials, you can probably surmise what sort of tone this laughfest is going for. Moreover, much of the comedy will likely spawn from De Niro playing ‘the underdog’ to Stallone – who remains as insanely-ripped as ever, as evidenced by the shots of a shirtless Sly in the trailers for next year’s Bullet to the Head.
It’s been about twenty years since Stallone last made a high-concept comedy like Grudge Match, and the result back then was Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Still, the narrative formula for the former has proven occasionally-successful over the years (Grumpy Old Men, Space Cowboys), due in no small part to the charm and heart the seasoned casts have brought to the otherwise cliche proceedings. We shall just have to wait to see how well Stallone and De Niro play off one another as the best of frenemies.
More on Grudge Match as the story develops. In the meantime, you can catch De Niro in next month’s Silver Linings Playbook, while, Stallone’s Bullet to the Head arrives next February.