Movie Review: “Grudge Match”

Starring
Sylvester Stallone, Robert De Niro, Kim Basinger, Alan Arkin, Kevin Hart
Director
Peter Segal

Holiday week release schedules are about counterprogramming – hit your rivals where they ain’t. “They’re releasing an animated movie? Yes, well, we’re putting out an action flick.” “Hey, cool, that’s when we’re releasing our rom-com with that adorable actress who is actually hell on wheels behind the scenes.” The key is that every demographic is represented by at least one of the movies opening in wide release, and rarely is one demo targeted with such focus by more than one movie. But look at that, the boxing comedy “Grudge Match” and “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” are opening within a week of each other, and are vying for the same audience. (Yes, one skews older, but not that much older.) This is like the makers of “Kick-Ass” deciding to open against a Marvel movie. Who would do that?

And yet, Warners might be crazy like a fox here. The older demographics may not be sexy, but they draw well, and if my colleague Jason Zingale’s assessment of “Anchorman 2” is any indication, the movies are a draw in terms of quality. “Grudge Match” is funny, at times explosively so, but also uneven and flawed. They even do something that previously seemed impossible: they use Alan Arkin too much. Well, maybe not too much, but they don’t use him appropriately.

Henry “Razor” Sharp (Sylvester Stallone) and Billy “The Kid” McDonnen (Robert De Niro) were both light heavyweight contenders from Pittsburgh who couldn’t stand each other. They fought twice, with each knocking out the other (their only losses). Before they could schedule a third match to settle the score, Razor retired from boxing, much to the Kid’s dismay. Thirty years later, Dante (Kevin Hart), the son of Razor’s former promoter, convinces him to perform in motion capture gear for a video game that will feature him and the Kid. Against Razor’s wishes, the Kid shows up at the same time. The two scuffle, the video of the scuffle goes viral, and suddenly there is a demand for the two to have their long-overdue grudge match. Between Razor’s money issues and the Kid’s lust for victory, they agree, but there are several things complicating the fight besides their age, namely the woman they once shared (Kim Basinger) and her son B.J. (Jon Bernthal), who only recently discovered whom his father was.

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A chat with Jason Statham (“Homefront”)

jason_statham_1

Time really flies when you’re having fun. It seems like yesterday that audiences fell for Jason Statham in Guy Ritchie’s “Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.” Of course, it’s been 15 years and Statham’s enthusiasm hasn’t waned one iota. The London native has gone from former model and stuntman to arguably the hottest action star around. The man best known for his sarcastic delivery and closed combat action scenes mixes a bit of tenderness in his new role as Phil Broker in “Homefront,” based on the novels and adapted by his “Expendables” castmate Sylvester Stallone. Jason recently sat down with us to discuss the role, Stallone’s influence and the topic of bullying.

Amazing performance in “Homefront,” Jason. How much of it do you attribute to Sly’s script, which he had originally written for himself?

JASON STATHAM: Yes, totally. You can only have a good shot if you’re doing something of quality. If the writing’s no good, then what are you going to do with it? You’ve got good things to say and the situations are right. It’s all about what’s on the page. It goes back to that every time. More often than not, I can’t get Sly right for me. (Laughs)

You’ve done his work before, but how surprised were you with the quality of the writing?

JASON STATHAM: I look back at “Rocky” and it’s a bit of a masterpiece when you look at the writing. It’s just great. I think people tend to forget just how many films he’s written and what a prolific writer he is. He’s done so many. I think he lost sight as to how good this was and I got in there at the right time. I got a bit lucky there. (Laughs) He’d always been giving me advice, saying, “You really need to do something that shows a different side.” I said, “What side?” And he said, “Have a read of this.” And it was almost advice, but here’s how to do it. (Laughs) I remember that as a great moment, as in, “Thanks for the great advice and for showing me how.” He’s great. He’s been a massive influence on me. I’m grateful. I’ve been on a great film with great actors. I’ve been cast with people who used to be hairdressers. Now, I’m cast with James Franco.

It doesn’t seem fair when you see Statham versus Franco. Do you ever think in that adversarial way when you’re cast?

JASON STATHAM: It’s so much more interesting, because he’s so much more dangerous. He’s totally unpredictable and that psychotic nature is much better than me standing in front of a big musclehead and then me having to chop him down like a big tree. He’s manipulating things which means far more. To have your daughter in jeopardy, it can’t get much worse than that. He’s torturing our pets. (Laughs) It’s pretty sick. Once someone starts messing with your animals, the stakes are higher. You need someone who has this eerie kind of weirdness and that unpredictability. It’s a much better choice than someone that’s going to duke it out with me.

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Bullz-Eye tackles Tough Mudder Lake Tahoe Degree DO:MORE Style!

Degree Men DO-MORE CORPS

There is no feeling on earth like sliding into the $125 robe in your room at the Ritz Carlton after spending six hours on the most difficult obstacle course in the world. Wait a minute, did someone say “Carlton”?  I thought they did.

The+Robe

This robe is the kind of robe Carlton would’ve rocked when he was on “Silver Spoons” with Ricky Schroeder. God, how I yearned to ride on that sweet in-house train, even just to go get the mail. Imagine me and the robe and the train. We’d run a train on the train; me, Carlton, the robe, Ricky… good times.

Sure, I thought about stealing the robe. Who wouldn’t? But the minute I stepped foot off the premises, the magic would’ve been gone, like when a young Moonlight Graham steps over the foul line in “Field of Dreams” to be irrevocable transformed into Doc, the kindly doctor who removes a piece of hot dog from Kevin Costner’s daughter’s airway to save her life.

Anyway, I left the robe, and about a pound of ball skin, on the mountain that day, and lived to tell the tale.

Keeping it REAL klassy on the mountain...

Keeping it REAL klassy on the mountain…

But you know what I didn’t leave on the mountain that day, friends? Sweat, or a stench of any kind. That’s because Degree had my back, not unlike the way Chuck Norris had Jonathan Brandis’ back in the movie “Sidekicks.”

Degree allows you to DO: MORE with three levels of protection.

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The Light from the TV Shows: A Chat with Michael Dorn (‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’)

Michael Dorn may have come to be known best for his work as Worf, the most famous Klingon in the ‘Star Trek’ universe, but his acting career was already off and running well before he found his way onto the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Bullz-Eye had a chance to chat with Dorn in connection with the Blu-ray release of ‘Star trek: The Next Generation – The Complete Fourth Season,’ and he discussed some of his pre-’Trek’ roles, including working with Bruce Jenner and Sylvester Stallone, in addition to revisiting his work as Worf and commenting on how things are going with the ‘Captain Worf’ series he’s been hoping to make

Celebrity City

Bullz-Eye: So how have you been enjoying seeing the ‘Next Generation’ episodes on Blu-ray?

Michael Dorn: Well, I haven’t seen this season’s yet, but the other ones have looked great. Just beautiful.

BE: When they first started rolling them out, I was really rather startled by the difference. I knew it’d look better, but it never occurred to me that it’d be quite that substantial.

MD: Yeah, exactly. I mean, it’s one of those things that makes you realize just how much technology and other things have changed. When we were doing our show in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, we looked at the original series and we were, like, “Ah, we’re so far ahead of that!” And now we look at our show side by side, and it’s, like, “Oh, my God…” [Laughs.] Technology has just grown by leaps and bounds. But it looks spectacular.

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5 Ways Movie Stars Make Money Between Films

Most movie stars like to take breaks between big films, but they don’t necessarily want to stop making money. Check out these five ways movie stars make money between films.

Working as Musicians

Creative types often use their off time pursuing other crafts, such as visual art or music. Keanu Reeves played bass in a band called Dogstar until the Matrix Trilogy hurtled him into a new level of celebrity. Donald Glover, who acts in movies as well as the television series Community, spends quite a bit of time pursuing his career as a rapper under the pseudonym Childish Gambino. By all accounts, Glover is considerably better at his musical craft than Reeves.

Inventing New Technologies

Few actors have successful careers as inventors. 1930′s film star Hedy Lamarr, however, had a flair for mathematics that made her an outstanding inventor as well as an actress. In fact, Lamarr co-created a technology that made it nearly impossible for enemy armies to jam radio communications from US soldiers. The military didn’t fully understand the importance of her invention, but her frequency-hopping, spread-spectrum patent played an instrumental role in developing Wi-Fi networks and Bluetooth.

Endorsing Products

Jenna Fischer, who has performed in hit comedies such as Blades of Glory and Hall Pass, made some extra cash by endorsing Proactiv products in 2010. While endorsing products like Proactiv’s dark spot corrector, she also won a Screen Actors Guild Award for her performance on The Office. That must have been a busy year!

Appearing in Foreign Commercials

A lot of actors don’t want to appear in commercials because they worry the work might tarnish their reputations. When they’re away from home, though, many of them will appear in commercials for extra cash. Jennifer Aniston appeared in a German Heineken commercial. Leonardo DiCaprio starred in a TV ad for an Italian telephone company. One of the weirdest examples, though, comes from Nicholas Cage, who played himself in a commercial for a Japanese gaming device. In the ad, he becomes crazed by blonde triplets, jumps on top of his car while yelling “fever!”, and speeds off without warning.

Investing in Businesses

Movie stars have a lot of money, so they are key targets for any entrepreneur who needs startup capital. Planet Hollywood is probably the most popular example of this. Without investments and endorsements from Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, Sylvester Stallone, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, it’s unlikely that this chain would have become as popular.
Ashton Kutcher has invested his money in companies that seem much hipper by today’s standards. Some of his investments include Foursquare and Spotify. He also bought into Skype before it became popular. Even if he hadn’t gotten rich off his romantic comedies, that well-timed investment would have made him extremely wealthy.
Actors have to do more than just sit around looking attractive when they’re between films. What other celebrities have you seen participating in side projects?

  

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