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Terrifying First Look Set Pic Of 'Grudge Match' Is A Chilling Reminder Of Where De Niro's Career Can Go

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by Edward Davis
February 24, 2013 6:36 PM
7 Comments
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Will all of Robert De Niro's great "Silver Linings Playbook" work be undone in a blink of an eye? The actor has a solid shot at winning Best Supporting Actor tonight despite the fact that Tommy Lee Jones won the SAG award for "Lincoln" earlier this year (the best Oscar augur there is). But his work in David O. Russell's film will go down as one of his finest whether or not he wins. It was an incredibly authentic and charged performance imbued with the anger, frustration and heartache of being a parent struggling with a problem child, on top of the the realization he may have failed said offspring. 

De Niro's career in the aughts has gone dangerously close to Marlon Brando's late-career arc, which was hard to watch ("The Island of Dr. Moreau," "Don Juan DeMarco," "The Brave" which never even came out). There have been too many "Meet the Parents," "Analyze That" and "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle" roles and not enough turns like "The Good Shepherd" (which he directed) or well, "Silver Linings Playbook." Everything else has felt like a paycheck gig or film that never felt terribly inspired. In short, the choices were enough to make you worry.

So on the eve of possibly winning an Oscar, a set photo  – via New Orleans Hornets' Robin Lopez's Twitter account of all people – has surfaced with De Niro and co-star Sylvester Stallone on the set of the boxing film, "Grudge Match." But don't expect "Raging Bull" meets "Rocky" (which would actually be better than what's in store). This is a, gulp, boxing comedy about a  pair of aging rival pugilists who are coaxed out of retirement for one final bout – 50 years after their last match.  More frightening: it's directed by Peter Segal, the filmmaker behind such classics like "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps," "Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult" and "Anger Management." It's the kind of thing we've become used to seeing these days from De Niro, sadly, and a sign that the conventional wisdom believing his career might be back on track thanks to 'Playbook' is a touch optimistic.

Sure, every actor needs to keep it light, but De Niro's had a whole decade of these forgettable films and starring opposite the meathead hack Stallone, it just feels like a career nadir. We'll see if De Niro is down for the KO when "Grudge Match" opens on November 15th.

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7 Comments

  • Cahuenga | April 9, 2013 12:10 AMReply

    Geeze, this is a tough call. The prospect of seeing De Niro and Stallone going mano-a-mano would work better if this were a gritty existential thriller in which Stallone could be persuaded to put his vanity on hold long enough to play within a decade or so of his actual age. He's capable of doing decent work (see "Copland"), and his ultraviolent 4th "Rambo" movie was the most morally honest of the entire series precisely because it was so horrifying. Unfortunately, "Grudge Match" is a comedy. Which is no problem for De Niro, however Stallone has had miserable luck with the genre (see "Rhinestone," "Oscar," "Stop, or my Mom will Shoot," etc.). Comedies are the hardest things to pull off, much moreso than horror films or dramas, or any other genre. They are astonishingly difficult to write, and require a special kind of brilliance and fearlessness on the part of the actors. Which is why there are so few brilliant comedies, and why even the half-assed ones are enthusiastically embraced. A De Niro/Stallone comedy sounds like an experiment fraught with peril. Personally, I'd rather see these two in a remake of "The Killers," or "On the Waterfront," or "Light at the Edge of the World." Almost anything, come to think of it, but a boxing comedy. Still, I wish them the best. I hope it turns out to be brilliantly funny and wildly successful...

  • Greg | February 25, 2013 12:57 AMReply

    Dude, lighten up, geez. He is Robert De Niro and he has earned the right to do what he wants, so feel free to critique the movie when it comes out, but leave the man alone for doing what he wants.

  • mike | February 24, 2013 11:04 PMReply

    Fuck you, Eddy. Nothing special about Deniro in that film. A minor work in every sense, he's lucky to be nominated. Brando was Awesome in Dr Moreu and Stallone has done work in the past that qualifies him as more than just a "hack".

    I don't feel ya

  • Dylan | February 24, 2013 9:16 PMReply

    DeNiros loss just goes to show how much his pay for play choices has hurt his standing in Hollywood. Looks like he's in an upswing project wise but he's got a long way to go

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  • 44 | February 24, 2013 7:40 PMReply

    "But his work in David O. Russell's film will go down as one of his finest whether or not he wins." Huh

  • cirkusfolk | February 24, 2013 7:36 PMReply

    Oh, my, God.

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