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Movie Review

Grudge Match

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sports action violence, sexual content and language.

Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Sports Comedy Drama
1 hr. 53 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
December 25, 2013 (wide—2,838 theaters)
DVD: April 8, 2014
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures

growing old and past our prime

emotions involved in retirement

boxers / the sport of boxing

effects of social media

Featuring: Robert De NiroBilly ‘The Kid’ McDonnen
Sylvester StalloneHenry ‘Razor’ Sharp
Kim BasingerSally
Alan ArkinLightning
Jon Bernthal … B.J.
Kevin Hart … Dante Slate, Jr.
more »
Director: Peter Segal
Producer: Callahan Filmworks
Gerber Pictures
more »
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

In 1984, Henry “Razor” Sharp (Sylvester Stallone) and Billy “The Kid” McDonnen (Robert De Niro) are two light heavyweight champions in boxing that fought each other countless times. When they were faced with a final “grudge” match between each other, the match was called off, Razor retiring from boxing on that day, and the two fighters never went head to head ever again.

Thirty years goes by. Razor works in a junkyard, and The Kid is a successful car dealership owner. Razor receives a visit from promoter Dante Slate Jr. (Kevin Hart) offering him $15,000 if he helps model and develop a new boxing video game. When Razor arrives at the studio, who else but The Kid shows up for the same job. Since Razor and The Kid can’t stand each other, naturally there’s immediate trouble.

A few days later, a recording of their fight in the studio goes “viral.” The fans are calling for a rematch between the two, says Dante Jr. Now, after thirty years, Razor and The Kid are about to go into the ring for one ultimate, final… grudge match.

I don’t mean to jump the gun, but I have to say that this film is geared to a very specific audience. That audience in particular are those who remember the glory days of the “Rocky” films and the “Raging Bull” films (as a guest who went with me pointed out, on the many references scattered throughout the movie). If you have not seen either the “Rocky Balboa” films or even “Raging Bull,” many of the jokes (and I mean the jokes that do not come out of the filthy mouth of Kevin Hart or even Alan Arkin) will go over people’s heads.

I knew these jokes were in this film even before walking in. Even with that in mind, and not getting the subtle nuances of “Grudge Match,” there are some genuinely funny moments… and then there were some that are a little overkill, but I’ll get to that later. Alan Arkin, even with his toilet mouth, had some genuinely funny moments, as does Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro (although Stallone has never been the comedic type, in my eyes). The performances are pretty good. Stallone and De Niro have a hysterically funny rivalry.

Before I give this movie TOO much credit, though, there is a lot of garbage (mainly in the vulgar language) that you will have to endure to get to those genuinely funny moments. And that leads me to the content section of our review.

Violence: For a movie that is suppose to be about boxing, it sure lacks a sense of violence. Most of the violence comes from the final grudge match between Razor and The Kid. However, there are scenes where men are punched in their privates, a scene in the studio where Razor and The Kid beat each other with computers, the two getting injured during a promotion, and a car accident involving Razor and his former girlfriend.

Profanity: My gut instinct is to mark this extreme. This movie could’ve been rated R for language alone. Obscene language includes multiple instances of “p*ssy,” “super-p*ssy,” “balls,” “scr*wed,” “p*ss” and “p*ssed.” There are racial jokes, jokes about men’s privates, man breast jokes. There are also the terms “bang,” “knocked up,” “sexual intercourse,” “thongs,” “t*ts,” female privates, a reference to polishing a turd, jokes about people who are obese, “jockage.” Other more commonly used vulgarity includes: “sh*t” (31), “h*ll” (7), “a**” (16), “a**-hole” (3), “d*mn” (7), “f*ck” (3), “mother-f*cker (1), S. O. B (3), “b*tch” (4), “pr*ck” (2), by itself God’s name is used vain 5 times and also in the form of G*d-d**n-it at least 7 times. Jesus’ name is also used in vain three times.

Sex/Nudity: Most of the sexual content is in the dialog. However, there is one scene where Alan Arkin’s character makes obscene sexual gestures while Razor is on the phone with his former girlfriend. There is also a scene where Dante Jr. grabs Razor’s suit near the crotch area. Razor receives an anal exam during a physical, two people “flip the bird,” and there’s a reference to homosexuality.

Other:Three people throw up, and one person supposedly sticks his hand in horse urine.

I’m honestly at a loss as to what positive themes I can draw from this comedy. I could say something about the idea of never giving up on your dream and its importance, or about never letting go a part of who you are. Honestly, though, these are overshadowed by the filthy humor.

There’s a particular audience in mind for “Grudge Match,” just like there was for “Last Vegas,” and that audience isn’t me. Nor was it intended to be. To be completely honest, as my guest and I ate dinner afterward, I was still divided on where I stood. Did I like it? Yes. Did I dislike it in some areas? Well… yeah. Don’t take the children or grandchildren to see this film due to above mentioned profanity. I don’t recommend it, personally, but some may be attracted to this because of Stallone, De Niro, and Hart. But honestly, you’re better off waiting for the rental box on this one.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Heavy to extreme / Sex/Nudity: Moderate to heavy

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Neutral—I watched this movie because I am a life-long “Rocky” fan… The story in the movie was great and on that alone… I would highly recommend it… but, unfortunately, I cannot do that. I was very disappointed in the language. It was very unnecessary, and I wish I had not paid good money to go see that. I can’t wait for it to be on TV where they bleep out all the cuss words! I am thankful I didn’t bring my children to see it! Good concept… Poor judgement. Very disappointed overall. …
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Charity, age 37 (USA)
Negative—So sad that there was so much profanity. It was really unnecessary.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Jack G., age 57 (USA)
Negative—I am very disappointed with Stallone, In his first 2 Rocky movies he had faith. Rocky would do the sign of the cross and visit his local priest. “Grudge Match” was very offensive, especially Alan Arkin’s character. Very vulgar for an age 13 rating. Stallone has enough influence to make this movie more family-friendly.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Patrick, age 49 (Canada)
Negative—Rented this movie to watch with my 3 boys. They love the Rocky movies, we kinda expected a similar experience. I was so upset with the amount AND level of vulgarity and profanity. Definitely not a positive experience… so disappointed!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Michelle, age 39 (USA)
Movie Critics

…a lazy attempt to milk a few dollars from memories of “Rocky” and “Raging Bull” before the audience who made those movies hits is too old to reach cinemas without assistance. …Grudge's attempt to meld “Rocky” sincerity with overfamiliar “Grumpy Old Men” shtick (Grumpy scribe Mark Steven Johnson is a producer here) is unlikely to sit well with fans…
—John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter

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