Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

December 26, 2013

CALLERI: Are you going to the movies this holiday season? Here are six new choices

Night & Day — If you think Santa carries a mixed bag of treats, wait until you visit your local movie theater and take a look at the variety of films available, including the new Christmas holiday pictures that run the gamut from goofy comedy to serious biography to something I’m calling a pastel fantasy.

Nestled amidst the offerings are a sure-fire Academy Award contender and that old Hollywood standby, brutal gunplay. And if your idea of a good time is seeing two actors who made their mark with boxing movies slug it out again, this time against each other, someone made the decision to make you very happy.

The movies are “Grudge Match,” “Nebraska,” “Anchorman 2,” “Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom,” “Her,” and “Lone Survivor.”

Sylvester Stallone (of “Rocky” fame and a nominee for a best actor Oscar) and “Robert De Niro (winner of a best actor Oscar for “Raging Bull”) come together for a real throwback to old-fashioned moviemaking in “Grudge Match,” a film during which I laughed out loud, and not in a derisive way. This could be the surprise hit movie of the Christmas season.

The story is right out of those 1930s boxing films starring Jimmy Cagney and Pat O’Brien. Two retired fighters with a history between them, Henry ‘Razor’ Sharp (Stallone) and Billy ‘The Kid’ McDonnen (De Niro), have been holding a grudge for decades. As expected, their animosity to each other also includes their fragmented relationship with the same woman (Kim Basinger). Henry has become a recluse who makes small metal sculptures. Billy is now a huge success as a restaurant and car dealership owner. He’s as outgoing as Henry is introverted.

Enter a young guy with a dream. Dante Slate (comedian Kevin Hart) is a streetwise promoter, a fellow who can smell money but doesn’t have any of his own. Through sheer determination, he manages to get a video game project off the ground that will digitally reunite ‘Razor’ and ‘The Kid’ in a re-creation of their famous big match. The two don’t have to be in the studio together to record any punches, but one thing leads to another and before you can say Rocky Balboa and Jake La Motta, an actual arena rematch is planned that will pit Sharp and McDonnen against each other in the ring, winner take all.

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