Play It To The Bone

"Weak"

Play It To The Bone Review


The boxing/road movie romp "Play It to the Bone" is yet another sports-as-metaphor comedy from writer-director Ron Shelton, whose previous, all-too-similar efforts on behalf of baseball ("Bull Durham"), basketball ("White Men Can't Jump") and golf ("Tin Cup") have struck a harmonic chord between testosterone and romance.

But despite great casting and an obliging -- if predictable -- set-up, this one lands with the thud of a ineffective body shot, largely because Shelton's formula has worn transparently thin.

Woody Harrelson and Antonio Banderas play antagonistic best friends and washed-up middleweights, given one last chance at glory if they can get from Los Angeles to Las Vegas in an afternoon to be the substitute undercard at a Mike Tyson bout.

The greasy fight promoter (Tom Sizemore), who has screwed over both of them in the past, makes this desperate offer because his two scheduled fighters have become suddenly indisposed -- one's in jail for possession and the other's in the morgue after a car crash.

Each of our heroes smell come-back and before long they're begging for a ride from sassy, straight-talkin' Lolita Davidovich -- Banderas' current squeeze and Harrelson's ex -- who drives the bickering boxers to Vegas in her vintage muscle car, a convertible, lime-green, 1972 Olds 442.

Backstories ensue, and before long it becomes apparent that Shelton is out of his element (boxing isn't his game) and out of material.

The comparisons to Shelton's earlier movies are inevitable, and with nothing new to say on the subjects of sports and sexual politics, "Play It to the Bone" just lacks the spunk and spirit of his high points in this highly specialized genre.

His characters have become self-perpetuating clichés (the down-on-his-luck sportsman/lover; the self-assured and sexually precocious beauty, pushing 40 with gusto), and here they are shallow and underwritten besides.

Although the actors are individually appealing as they search for character quirks to exploit (Harrelson is a hypocrite born-again Christian, Banderas admits to dabbling in homoerotica), there's little chemistry between Davidovich and either of her co-stars. What's more, her contemporary soliloquies on the nature of love completely lack the ironic, resounding truth the writer-director bestowed upon her predecessors, Susan Sarandon ("Durham") and Rene Russo ("Tin Cup").

Although "Bone" doesn't seem to have the pulse of its subject sport the way Shelton's previous films have, it still manages a respectable number of laughs. The one really good running gag involves the fighters' battered brains playing tricks on them in the ring.

But the audience is invariably two or more scenes ahead of the director at any given moment, and the story's architecture is barely masked behind the action on the screen.

"Ally McBeal" co-star Lucy Liu's appearance as an all-attitude tart Harrelson picks up at a roadside diner is just screaming "plot device." After the original threesome stops the car to put the top up, the rest of the interior scenes are obviously shot in a studio against a blue screen desert background.

The fight itself plays like a fast-forward rehash of every "Rocky" climax, condensed into 10 minutes of screen time. Distracting and gratuitous fight fan cameos abound (Tony Curtis, James Woods, Rod Stewart, Kevin Costner and Tyson himself -- followed by an obvious body double in another take), and Harrelson and Banderas land an absurd number of punches and knock each other to the mat no less than 10 times. It's so unrealistic, they might as well be Weebles.

Perhaps if Shelton were more of a boxing fan himself (it seemed to me he was winging it most of the time), "Play It to the Bone" might have measured up to his earlier sports comedies. But, frankly, I think it's time for him to move on to other genres. Seven of the nine movie's he's written have had sports themes. Come on, man. Expand your horizons.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 124 mins

In Theaters: Friday 21st January 2000

Box Office Worldwide: $8.4M

Budget: $24M

Production compaines: Touchstone Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 12%
Fresh: 9 Rotten: 69

IMDB: 5.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Cesar Dominguez, as Vince Boudreau, as Grace Pasic, as Joe Domino, as Lia, as Hank Goody, as Artie, as Cappie Caplan, as Rudy, as Dante Solomon, as Mad Greek Waitress, Dana Lee as Man with Ferrari, as Himself, as Himself (Ringside Fan), as Himself (Ringside Fan), as Himself (Ringside Fan), as Herself (Ringside Fan), as Himself (Ringside Fan), as Herself (Ringside Fan), as Himself (Ringside Fan), Gennifer Flowers as Party Guest, as Overdosed Hooker, as Himself

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Snatched Movie Review

Snatched Movie Review

It doesn't really matter that the script for this lively action-comedy is paper thin: teaming...

Jawbone Movie Review

Jawbone Movie Review

Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the...

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...

Advertisement
Sleepless Movie Review

Sleepless Movie Review

In remaking the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, the filmmakers have dumbed down both the...

Unlocked Movie Review

Unlocked Movie Review

By injecting a steady sense of fun, this slick but mindless action thriller both holds...

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.