The Bye Bye Man
The Bye Bye Man is the kind of film that is so boring and bereft of anything of possible interest that it becomes infuriating.
"Grudge Match" takes the popular boxing game of speculation and makes a movie out of it. You know how it goes: Someone will ask a question that kicks off hours of arguments. The most popular one I've heard is "Would Muhammad Ali in his prime beat a young Mike Tyson?" The answer, of course, is yes. See "The Rumble in the Jungle" for proof. Taking a page from Ali's playbook in that historic fight, Buster Douglas knocked Tyson out. And Buster Douglas is no Muhammad Ali. Discuss amongst yourselves.
It's doubtful that cinephiles would get into similar arguments about movie characters, but "Grudge Match" hopes you have. The commercials guarantee a fight between the actors who played two of the most memorable boxers in film history, Rocky Balboa and Jake LaMotta. The unfortunate thing is that these actors are not the same age as they were when they played those famous pugilists. I don't know who asked for a match between those two, but I assure you they didn't want a 70-year-old LaMotta and a 67-year old Rocky. Regardless of how much "Grudge Match" pokes fun at its stars' ages (their fight is sponsored by Geritol, for example), it's still two old guys beating the hell out of each other for your enjoyment. There's something a tad exploitative about this.
"Grudge Match" belongs to a fast-growing genre I'll call "Senior Citizen Action Porn," or SCAP. Proud members of SCAP include "Red" and its sequel, "Red 2," the "Expendables" series, and the best of the 2013 crop, Arnold Schwarzenegger's "The Last Stand." These movies may appear to give AARP members something to cheer about, but their main purpose is to soothe middle-aged men's fears of getting old. These films do not speak to anything relatable to people nearing retirement age. Instead, they trot out the action heroes of our adolescence, prop them up with weaponry and get them to do the things they did when they—and we—were younger. It's an ego boost for the actors and a hit off the nostalgia bong for us.
At least "Grudge Match" tries to strike a balance between a realistic portrayal of aging and its climactic, action-packed beatdown. It presents a few genuine moments of senior-worthy cheering tucked in the folds of a much younger audience's pandering. Our heroes lay a whuppin' to several folks who disrespect their elders, including a UFC athlete and LL Cool J. And there's a mildly sweet romance featuring Kim Basinger, who looks stunning at 60 and provides the film's sole voice of reason.