For those whose dream it has long been to see Jake LaMotta and Rocky Balboa go head to head, your moment is close at hand. Granted, one of these men actually lived, while the other lives only in our collective hearts and minds, but the two actors who embodied these pugilists in landmark films will be lacing up the gloves one more time for Grudge Match, a boxing comedy now in pre-production. That's right, it's Robert De Niro vs. Sylvester Stallone: arguably the greatest actor of the '70s going against arguably the greatest action star of the '80s for all the marbles. Or, at least, what remains of the marbles.
The two have shared the screen before, in James Mangold's acclaimed drama Cop Land. That film saw De Niro play a supporting role alongside Stallone's De Niro-esque lead performance (he seriously packed on the pounds). But the time for nuance and sincerity are over; with the success of his Expendables franchise, no one could argue with Stallone if he decided to live out the golden years of his career with his tongue planted firmly in his cheek.
This won't be the first time De Niro's proven game for some self-mockery—far from it. Self-parody has suited Bobby D in some instances (Analyze This, Meet the Parents) but in others it's seemed as if he was the only one not in on the joke (like when he turned up in the 50 Cent vehicle Freelancers). Whether or not you cringe at the thought of a Raging Bull send up, it's hard to be mad with De Niro, who's spent decades now furthering the cause of independent filmmakers through his Tribeca Enterprises. And this will doubtless be more entertaining than the completely random Raging Bull sequel, now titled The Bronx Bull, due out next year. Grudge Match could very well have been a WME package: Stallone is a long time William Morris client, and De Niro was with Endeavor until right around the time of the merger that created WME Entertainment. De Niro is now with CAA.
While we're at it, we may as well mention that Nicolas Cage has been mentioned for The Expendables 3, although now there is some controversy over whether or not he's formally attached. Any fan of self-parody and explosions should be very excited by this news. Cage is with CAA, as well as with manager Michael Nilon at Kritzer Levine Wilkins Griffin Nilon Entertainment (yes, that is the name of the company). That's actually a fairly new development, as Nilon only recently became a manager after leaving CAA.