De Niro and Stallone Continue to Tarnish Their Legacies in Grudge Match

Jake LaMotta and Rocky Balboa deserve better.

It’s a sad coincidence that Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street is opening the same day as this lame shell of a comedy starring Robert De Niro, who used to be the acclaimed director’s go-to leading man. We’ve come to expect this sort of movie from his co-star, Sylvester Stallone, who’s spent most of his career coasting through dreck powered largely by the goodwill he built up with his Oscar-winning Rocky. But even though De Niro has spent much of the last decade doing the same (cashing in on the reputation of his earlier acclaimed roles), it’s still shocking to see the man who was Jake LaMotta, Rupert Pupkin, Vito Corleone, and Travis Bickle reduced to participating in a painfully bad fart joke.

At least De Niro still looks his age (69). Close-ups of Stallone’s face are downright unpleasant, as it appears he’s had some horrifying machine stretch his skin tight to appear younger, like the mother in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil.

The elevator pitch for this buddy comedy (actually more like a frenemy comedy) was surely Raging Bull meets Rocky in the ring. If only it could have been that. Instead we’re treated to a nonstop onslaught of jokes about aging and horse urine and, yes, flatulence. It’s as creaky and wheezy as its lead characters, two 60-something boxers who get one last chance to settle a 30-year-old score.