Play It to the Bone (1999)

R   |    |  Comedy, Drama, Sport


Play It to the Bone (1999) Poster

Two best friends and former middleweight contenders travel to Las Vegas to fight each other for the first time.


5.5/10
11,540


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  • Play It to the Bone (1999)
  • Lolita Davidovich and Ron Shelton at an event for Play It to the Bone (1999)
  • Antonio Banderas and Woody Harrelson in Play It to the Bone (1999)
  • Antonio Banderas at an event for Play It to the Bone (1999)
  • Lolita Davidovich at an event for Play It to the Bone (1999)
  • Play It to the Bone (1999)

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10 October 2004 | bob the moo
It looks to the journey as the focal point but the writing is far too bland and underdone to make it interesting
With the Tyson fight coming to Vegas, organisers Hank Goody and Joe Domino have put together quite a few big names on the undercard. However when one of their fighters turns up drugged out with two hookers and his opponent is pronounced dead at the scene of a car accident, they are forced to try and rustle up two fighters with a few hours notice and turns to friends Vince and Cesar. Taking the offer, the friends set off with Cesar's girlfriend to make the trip to Vegas for the fight – a trip that sees them learning more about one another while also trying to prepare to try and knock each other out.

I looked at the cast list for this film and wondered why such a film had managed to come and go in the UK without me even having heard of it. So many well-known actors, a big sports director and loads of star cameos – surely it must be great, well, in a word, no. This is not to say that it is awful because it isn't, it is just that the writing is nowhere near good enough to sustain the film and as a result the film is never engaging on any level. The film has a fight over the final 30 minutes, including set up, but the majority of the film sees us riding in the car with the three main characters. This focus puts a lot of onus onto them as characters and their stories to be interesting and engaging – the dynamics and the history in that car needs to be the edge, to be the hook that kept me interested. It has its interesting stuff but major things like Grace's relationship with the two men but it doesn't do anything with it whatsoever. Even during the fight her split emotions are made very clear but the actual script never bothers to develop it or make it more than very obvious padding. Sadly the majority of the dialogue was just bickering that didn't develop the characters at all and made their stories just fall flat in the telling because we don't really care about them. Bickering, as White Men Can't Jump showed us, can be fun when it is delivered as a source of comedy but here there are no laughs because it doesn't seem to want to be a comedy either. Its target seemed to have been a character sports film with laughs – but it pretty much misses all of those.

This is not to say that the actual fight isn't fun because it is pretty enjoyable if you like that sort of thing. Yes it is all a bit unrealistic but it is pretty exciting at points and only gets silly at key moments. It isn't a great fight but it is at least a relief to get away from the empty bickering of the majority of the film. Sadly it ends on a low point and then drags back into the empty script again for about 10 minutes before just ending without really telling us anything. Physically Harrelson and Banderas both look good – although Woody looks the buffest and is an imposing presence. Sadly he just plays his usual character and, without the material, he is exposed. Banderas tries harder to bring some character out in his role but he is just shadow boxing because the script is not there with him. Davidovich is OK but it is evident that she had no idea why her character feels for both the men or why it is so persistent – nor does she know what to do with it and, although light and fun, she alone cannot add substance. Lucy Liu is annoying and seems only there to fill time, flash flesh and fake an orgasm for the audience. Sizemore is fun but obvious, as is Wagner but both men are very underused. The cameos all roll in at the end of the film but other than saying 'oh look it's' they don't really add anything.

Overall this is a pretty poor film. It could have been better if the writing had developed the characters and made the dialogue relevant and interesting instead of just making it a load of bickering, but it didn't. The fight is enjoyable but mainly because it is a welcome break from the average stuff that has gone before, but fans of boxing will scoff at it even if it is quite fun for the most part. Generally it is a missed opportunity with an average script and no real aspirations; not bad just really weak.

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Box Office

Budget:

$24,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,366 26 December 1999

Gross USA:

$8,434,146

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$8,678,812

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