Hollywood Beckons Gronk

 DATELINE: Retirement Among the Movie Legends

say it ain't so

Those who have read our Gronk commentaries over the past few years know that we have advocated a Hollywood trade for the big lug. He has a face and a personality and a body that won’t quit, which is enough to become a film star.

Now we hear that Rock Dwayne Johnson and Rocky Sylvester Stallone have told Gronk to go west to the land of swimming pools and movie stars. You can die hard on the screen. Gronk hits his marks and learned a complex playbook from Belichick. He can certainly memorize a few monosyllabic lines and hit the bad guy in the nose.

He can make $10m in one movie and a few commercials without breaking a sweat.

On the other hand, though we love watching him as a Patriots star, know that CTE and a concussion are the end of the line sooner than later. We want the best for Gronk, and we cringe every time we see him hit on the field.

We want to tell him that John Wayne played football too, but he made his mark in adventure movies. Gronk has a flexible face, and he could be in comedy, adventure, westerns, or sci-fi as the good guy, the comic relief, or the imposingly big villain.

We know that Foxboro is not exactly Beverly Hills where movie stars, swimming pools, and big bucks in the sunshine can be had, but we’d urge him to consider how well he’d do in movieland.

We’ve seen Gronk interact with Bieber, Kyrie Irving, David Ortiz, and myriad others on the screen. We’ve heard him read Chinese war lord Sun Tzu’s philosophy, and we know that James Bond could use him as the next opponent.

We love Gronk. Movies are his calling card—and small-screen series too. Maybe Westworld needs a new automaton.

Go west, young Gronk. Go west.



Holding a Grudge Against Bad Taste


Grudges aside


We forced ourselves to sit through Grudge Match, despite our desire to shut it off at various points.

Two highly professional actors seem hellbent on turning the clock back. Robert DeNiro and Sylvester Stallone were the epitome of boxers in their prime.

Greed forces them with the assistance of Kevin Hart and Alan Arkin to do a geriatric version of Rocky Vs. Raging Bull. Here they are shadow boxers named Razor and Kid.

The cutesy stuff starts early—with both men sharing an interest in Kim Basinger, their old flame. The film is at its best when it is parody, and at its worst when it takes itself to ridiculous ends.

We did like the montage of LaMotta and Balboa in their boxing glory films, and we found the photo-shopping of them fighting each other in youth to be a good place to stop the movie.

Alas, it goes on to the requisite major bout where two aging actors box for nine rounds to a sold out crowd, and with points to be made on all sides of the script. We almost guess that each star has exactly the same amount of screen time, down to the nanosecond.

If the film had stayed the course as a light satire of their early film images, we’d probably have enjoyed it much more. Training time is a take-off on the earlier bits by Rocky in every one of his movies. Yet, Stallone already did this in Rocky Balboa (VI).

We were reminded of aging Brando playing a godfather in a weak comedy toward the end of his career and life.

These may not be the lasting images we want of Stallone or DeNiro. Worse yet, they seem to take their images all too seriously at the climax.

We stayed the course till the bitter end, and are much sorrier for the experience.

Grudge Match Leaves Grinches and Grumps Unhappy



Grumpy Old Boxers: Rocky Takes On Raging Bull

When someone in movie marketing decides to pair up two iconic boxing movie stars, you have boxing office gold. You may also have a legendary teaming, but mostly you have the ultimate in stripped-down dignity.

Robert DeNiro of Raging Bull (Best Oscar Picture 1980) and Sylvester Stallone of Rocky (Best Oscar Picture 1977) have aged with a kind of grace. They are still forceful figures and important film stars.

Their days of heavy drama and important movies may have gone the way of Marlon Brando spoofing his own Godfather movie in later years or of Jack Nicholson spoofing everything he used to do nowadays.

Bette Davis knew it best. If people want a parody, then she decided to play Bette Davis as only Bette could. It meant bumpy rides and axe-wielding killers had to step aside for the grandest dame.

DeNiro and Stallone have considerable guts to spoof their own most serious and most respected work. No one else can do it quite as well with a tongue-in-cheek.

In Grudge Match they play aging second-rate boxers who are teamed up for a fake digital rematch. Their animosity makes them a laughing stock: but the smell of money sends them back to the boxing ring in their senior moment.

So, it is with this movie. Stripped down to boxing trunks, Sylvester looks impressive for an old man, and DeNiro looks like an old man.

They are brave to spoof themselves and poke fun at their own careers. Yet, there is something disquieting and undignified in how the public wants their men in old age to become doddering fools.

We may well laugh along with the two stars, knowing their original performances cannot be tainted, but we are left with a slightly sickening guilt that our chuckles are not coming from the best of intentions.

Of course, some actors (like benighted Paul Walker, dead in a horrible car accident this week) will never have the opportunity to reprise their youthful success.

To survive into golden age gives old stars like Stallone and DeNiro the right to make an easy living and enjoy making movies when they are well past it.

It may be a sign too that there are few, if any, real movies for older actors outside of playing the buffoon.

Grudge Match may give us a TKO for dignity in the ultimate fighters’ film world.

For the most interesting insights into movies, old and new, you should read MOVIES TO SEE OR NOT TO SEE and MOVIE MASHUP.  Both books are available on Amazon.com in softcover or e-book.