Though sporty helmer Ron Shelton has already made two baseball films (Bull Durham and Cobb), a golf movie (Tin Cup) and a basketball flick (White Men Can't Jump), he's always claimed that boxing is his favourite sweaty pastime. And it's clear from his latest, pugilist-pal comedy Play It To The Bone, that the director's had enough of seeing his favourite sport ruined by heavyweight brick shithouses like Mike Tyson KO'ing pay-per-view matches in the first round.
So here's his tribute to those lighter, lesser-known ring dancers who might not be able to crunch a skull with just a single gloved tap, but sure can deliver a highlight-filled fight when they have to. Trouble is, in a movie with a running time of more than two hours, only roughly half-an-hour involves any serious fisting. And while it's great to see pretty-boy Antonio Banderas get his mug mushed into a bruisy lump by the already face-bashed Woody Harrelson, any thrills delivered by the final showdown are dissolved by a downright boring build-up and a corny resolution (have a guess what the outcome is - you're probably right).
Most of the plot slowly unfurls as a tiresome buddy-buddy road movie, with Woody and Tony bickering, quipping and circling around mutual love interest Davidovich all the way from LA to Vegas. They laugh, they cry, they fall out, they make up, they drive, they eat, they drive some more... Oh, and for some inexplicable reason, they stop to pick up unlikeable nympho babe Lucy Liu, whose only real role in the story is to provide Woody with a frankly offensive `comedy' fuck scene.
Quite why they're driving - as opposed to flying - to Vegas when they've only got six hours to get there, is never explained. It's also odd that, even though they've all been close for quite some time, it's not until now that they begin discussing the most important things in their recent lives, like Cesar and Vince's respective downfalls. Talk about lazy scripting.
But, most irritating is the fact that Shelton insists on repeatedly ramming home the message that these are really, really GREAT GUYS!!! Any movie which ends with the line: '"I love you guys'" surely deserves to be knocked out in the first round.
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Harrelson and Banderas' banter soon loses its appeal, while poor-man's Rene Russo Davidovich ups the irritation factor as the 'sassy' girlfriend. Yeah, there's some good pugilism, but 90 minutes of badly scripted road movie don't make up for that.