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22 Dec. 2013

Kevin Hart, GRUDGE MATCH, film critics respond


Stallone, De Niro and Hart...making the deal

Stallone, De Niro and Hart…making the deal

Alan Arkin and Hart in scene from GRUDGE MATCH

Alan Arkin and Hart in scene from GRUDGE MATCH

Kevin Hart

Kevin Hart

Christmas Day won’t quite be the same after seeing the new movie, GRUDGE MATCH, the dramatic comedy reuniting two boxing legends for one last competitive bout. Fans thought Billy “The Kid” McDonnen (Robert De Niro) and Henry “Razor” Sharp (Stallone) had left in all in the ring decades ago but, internally, the fighters knew they had not.

Hardly a stretch for many, the story touches home among those who feel once you’d got you’ll always have it. When money is at the intersection of desperation and inflated egos, bragging rights win hands down.  It’s when unrequited love and unsettled scores up the ante, that the race begins and the fight for the last word seems invaluable.  

Warner Bros. Pictures’ presents award-winning movie legends Oscar® winner De Niro (“Raging Bull,” “Silver Linings Playbook”), Oscar® nominee Stallone (the “Rocky” films, “The Expendables”) joined by Oscar winner Alan Arkin (“Little Miss Sunshine”, “Argo”) and today’s top comedic actor Kevin Hart (“Think Like A Man,” “Laugh at my Pain,” (“Let Me Explain”) with Oscar winner Kim Basinger (“8 Mile,” “L.A. Confidential”) in a match for the ages directed by Peter Segal (“Get Smart,” “The Longest Yard”), opening Christmas Day.

As the plot goes, “The Kid” and “Razor” are two local Pittsburgh fighters whose fierce rivalry put them in the national spotlight. Each had scored a victory against the other during their heyday, but in 1983, on the eve of their decisive third match, Razor suddenly announced his retirement, refusing to explain why but effectively delivering a knock-out punch to both their careers.

Thirty years later, boxing promoter Dante Slate Jr., seeing big dollar signs, makes them an offer they can’t refuse: to re-enter the ring and settle the score once and for all. But they may not have to wait that long: on their first encounter in decades, their long-festering feud erupts into an unintentionally hilarious melee that instantly goes viral. The sudden social media frenzy transforms their local grudge match into a must-see HBO event. Now, if they can just survive the training, they may actually live to fight again.

The film’s producer Bill Gerber remarks, “In addition to playing out an unresolved contention in the ring, this story felt like a great opportunity to talk about unresolved relationships. It shows the humanity—and the humor—of getting older and as I’m getting older, I’m interested in telling those stories.”

Entertainment & Lifestyle Personality, Jawn Murray

Hart springs into action as Dante Slate Jr, a creative boxing promoter who sees this as an opportunity of a lifetime and a payday that will alleviate everyone’s money woes, particularly his own.  He lives and works from his car parked in front a seedy motel that he calls his home office.

Arkin, in classic fashion as Razor’s former trainer, Louis “Lightning” Conlon, who gets to put Razor through his paces again; and Basinger as Sally Rose, who was once the love of Razor’s life. Rounding out the cast is Jon Bernthal as BJ, who becomes The Kid’s instinctive but untested trainer; and young film newcomer Camden Gray.

Hart says, “Pete Segal is amazing. He allowed me to bring things to the table, he was all about me trying things and Bob and Sly were the same, which makes me respect them all the more. If you don’t have a good cast to work with, no matter how funny you’re being it won’t matter.”

Film Critic Shawn Edwards

Segal says of Hart’s portrayal, “Dante Jr. is shameless, which is great, because all he wants to do is make money and all we want to do is beat each other to death.”

Hart explained his acceptance of the role stating, “What made me say yes to the opportunity to work with these legends? It was a no brainer: Robert De Niro, Sylvester Stallone, Alan Arkin, Kim Basinger…look at the company I’m in, and I’m watching ‘Rocky’ fight ‘Raging Bull.’ What movie fan, what boxing fan, what actor is not going to want to see that, or be part of it?”

GRUDGE MATCH print poster 1 Kevin Hart solo pic in green shirtAdditionally, the box office wonder considered it a career accomplishment to play off of Arkin, whose dry, ironic style is offset in the film by Hart’s portrayal of Slate as a fast-paced pitchman with dollar signs in his eyes. “He’s one of the best,” says Hart. “Quick, sharp, totally focused. Every time I thought I had him, he’d come right back with something just as good.”

Segal concluded, “Hart was fearless when it came to trying things out on the set. “We would always be throwing him ideas and alternate jokes, and he was, ‘Fine, fine, bring ‘em, bring me more, bring me more.’ He was so willing and so eager and just wanted to do what was best for the movie.”



About the author

Sandra Varner has had her hands on the pulse of the entertainment industry and lifestyles coverage for decades, staying current, always.


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