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Play It To The Bone

Rated [R]
Starring Antonio Banderas, Woody Harrelson and Lolita Davidovich
Written and Directed by Ron Shelton

What begins as a buddy-buddy movie turns into a buddy-beats-up-on-buddy movie and, frankly, though I get the point of the story there's little point to actually sitting through Ron Shelton's Play It To The Bone. Shelton has a knack for writing sports/buddy stories. He's done it with baseball and basketball and golf, though he tells us in the press notes that boxing is his favorite. Well, hold on to your stomachs, 'cuz by the time the film wraps you'll get to see two star faces pounded like slabs of meat, in loving close-up detail.

Cranky'll be the first to admit that he hasn't followed boxing as a "sport" since the days of Muhammad Ali and I don't care much for it now. That doesn't mean I wuss out when it comes to these slab of meat flicks. There's no thrill in the mayhem so, unless I'm locked in by the stories playing out around the boxing ring, I'd generally take a pass. The attraction on this ticket is the pairing of Woody Harrelson and Antonio Banderas. Harrelson did the buddy routine in Shelton's White Men Can't Jump. Banderas is an actor whose work I like. Aside from the fact that this is my job, the pairing "felt" good. So, thinking "Rocky and his Best Buddy," I settled in for Play It To The Bone and waited for something, anything, interesting. I waited in vain.

Down in Vegas, the undercard for yet another Mike Tyson title fight has been scratched at the last moment. Promoters Hank Goody (Robert Wagner) and Joe Domino (Tom Sizemore) need two licensed and weight-matched fighters, with big enough names to fill the bill. Those boxers would be Vince Boudreau (Harrelson) and Cesar Dominguez (Banderas) both of whom haven't had much luck in the boxing world. It's a sweet deal. Fifty grand for up to ten rounds of work and a title shot for the winner.

Neither of 'em are smart enough to ask for air fare, bringing us the buddy part of the pic, a road trip from LA to Vegas in a sassy green muscle car driven by owner Grace Pasic (Lolita Davidovich). Grace is girlfriend of one, ex-girlfriend of the other and it doesn't matter which is which 'cuz she still loves 'em both. Everybody say "Awww..." So we get half a flick to hear the very explicit intimacies of their friendship as this trio takes the scenic route and picks up a horny young hitchhiker, Lia (Lucy Liu), en route. If you're buying the ticket because you like Liu from Ally McBeal, you'll wish you'd stuck with free teevee 'cuz the lady has very little to do.

All the yadda yadda is necessary to set up some sight gags in the fight part of the flick, but it's a fairly tedious watch. When we get to Vegas, we get to the point, which is watching two men put their friendship on hold as they bash each others brains out. Grace gets her own subplot, involving some inventions she holds patents on and the "interest" of Robert Wagner's promoter. Even a multitude of celebrity cameos can't keep this thing from being a major Ho hum.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Play It To The Bone, he would have paid...


mid-week rental. There's nothing here to require the purchase of the extra large popcorn special combo.

Click to buy films by Ron Shelton
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