Sam Strange Remembers: GRUDGE MATCH

It's the Fight of the Centenarian!

Once upon a time, there was a movie character people loved named Rocky Balboa. Also once upon a time, there was a movie character people loathed named Raging Bull. I thought it would be a good idea to have both characters box each other as old men. Actually God told me to do it. I now realize he was just bored and wanted a good laugh at my expense. He will never stop punishing me for making The Passion of the Christ.
When Grudge Match begins, Rocky Balboa lives in a modest house in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia. Despite his history as a champion boxer, Balboa eeks out his existence working at a ship factory. I believe he is in charge of taking lunch orders. He has to wear a harder hardhat than everyone else. I decided to recon Adrian out of the story and replace her with Kim Basinger because Kim Basinger is still hot despite being almost 40 years old.
Raging Bull, on the other hand, is still the charming alcoholic Lothario we remember. He owns a nightclub and a used car lot and has fun every day. He's really fat, though. We never see him get on a scale, but his mushy elephant body must be pushing 150 pounds. Maybe even 160.
Rocky Balboa and Raging Bull have a tumultuous shared history. Back when they were in their prime, they fought each other on two occasions. The first time, Raging Bull won. The second time, Raging Bull was drunk and lost the match. Immediately after this win, Rocky Balboa sent a very advanced robotic copy of himself to a press conference and announced his retirement from boxing, robbing Raging Bull of an opportunity to prove to the world that he could beat Rocky Balboa twice.
Why did he do this? Why did he retire from boxing just when he was at his best? Well, it turns out that Raging Bull had sex with the love of Rocky's life, Kim Basinger. Their union produced a son named Meandering Calf, who grew up alongside the son she had with Rocky Balboa, named Donkey Jablome.
One day Chris Tucker shows up at Rocky Balboa's house offering Balboa $10,000 to do mo-cap for a boxing video game. Rocky says "Yes" to the offer because it's one of the few intelligible words remaining in his vocabulary. But when he shows up in his yellow dangling-ball suit, Raging Bull springs from the shadows to goad him into the fight he never got back when they were in shape. This leads to a massive throwdown in the recording studio which causes $20,000 worth of damages and ends up postponing the new Dr. Dre album for another two whole weeks.
For future legal reasons, every engineer and intern in the studio records the fight on their phone, and the incident becomes a massive viral sensation for five minutes. This convinces Chris Tucker to plan a legitimate boxing match between the aging fighters and rake in the big bucks at county fairs worldwide. Raging Bull is of course very eager to do this. Rocky Balboa says "Yes" to the offer because it's one of the few intelligible words remaining in his vocabulary.
So now it's time to train! Raging Bull goes back to a gym which use to be run by his old pal, LL Cool J, but now operates under the watchful eye of his old pal's son, LL Cool Jr. Junior won't train Raging Bull because he is old, but he will let him use the facilities. Right in the nick of time, Meandering Calf walks in and announces, "Hello, Raging Bull. I am the son you never knew about, Meandering Calf. I have a mentally handicapped kid, and I am a professional boxing trainer. I just thought you should know." Then he leaves. Raging Bull tries to run after him, but he is too fat and old to catch up. Then Meandering Calf comes back because he forgot his son. Raging Bull begs him to help with his training, and Meandering Calf agrees.
Rocky Balboa gets his training from his old mentor, Mickey (now played by Alan Arkham). Mickey is pretty old school. His training regimen includes all kind of tricks that have since been discredited. He makes Rocky eat raw eggs. He makes Rocky punch meat. He makes Rocky chase chickens underwater. He makes Rocky soak his hands in cow piss. He makes Rocky run around the bad part of town with a sandwich board proudly displaying swastikas and racial epitaphs. But he gets results.
News of the fight finally brings Kim Basinger out of hiding. She tries to get both men to cancel the match, but neither will listen. There is progress, however. She and Rocky Balboa go on a couple dates and begin to rekindle their old romance. Unfortunately, they get in a massive car wreck when Rocky accidentally drives through an entire shopping mall. Everyone is fine, and it's great fuel for the viral sensation he and Raging Bull have become, but it also means he must finally admit that he is blind in both eyes.
Mickey and Kim Basinger beg Balboa to cancel the fight. There's no way he can win against Raging Bull while fighting blind. But Balboa is not so convinced. Because Raging Bull is a fatty.
After two years of training, Fight Night finally arrives. Before a sold out Las Vegas crowd, Rocky Balboa and Raging Bull are ready to rumble. It goes about as well as anyone expected. Rocky swings wildly at the air while Raging Bull punches him ineffectually. Eventually the sold out crowd has emptied out, save for Kim Basinger, Meandering Calf, and Donkey Jamblome, and even they take a break to get some chicken wings. Finally, Raging Bull has a heart attack and dies. After all those years of pointless rivalry, Rocky Balboa realizes Raging Bull was his closest friend all along and immediately dies of a broken heart. The dry dust holding together Mickey's spirit finally gives out. All this transpires to the sounds of "Jingle Bells" because it was decided late in post that this movie would come out on Christmas Day.

(three stars)