Play It To The Bone Review

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Two struggling boxers are given a big break, and embark on a road trip from LA to Las Vegas.


There are only a handful of truly great movies about sport and nearly every one of them has been directed by Ron Shelton — Bull Durham, White Men Can't Jump, Cobb and Tin Cup. These are films which not only expertly dissect their respective pursuits, but also the psyches of the sportsmen involved and, by extension, humanity at large. They also tend to be damn funny. The only time that Shelton has come unstuck, sports-wise, was with the decidedly lame boxing farce, The Great White Hype.

Admittedly, he only wrote the script, but the film's main problem was that boxing is a transparently corrupt sport populated by murderous thugs, deranged ear-biters and Don King. In other words, boxing is simply beyond satire and one assumed that, having had his fingers burnt once, Shelton would leave the subject alone.

Unfortunately, one assumed wrong, as Play It To The Bone finds the director getting back into the ring with a tale of two pugilist pals who are hired as the warm-up act for a Mike Tyson fight in Vegas. Despite operating against the clock — the original undercard pair having indisposed themselves at the last minute thanks to, in one case, a fatal car accident and, in the other, an unwise combination of drugs and hookers — our heroes inexplicably decide they should drive from LA to LV in the company of Banderas' current (and Harrelson's ex-) girlfriend, Davidovich.

Confused? Don't worry, you won't be, as the ensuing on-the-road hi-jinks consists of little more than some pretty dull maxed-out credit card action. This, however, is downright compelling compared to the eventual fight itself, which would shame the most dire of Rocky sequels. Even the director's funny bone appears to have let him down, with the result that Play It To The Bone looks horribly like someone trying to make a Ron Shelton movie and, frankly, not doing it very well.

Ron Shelton finally drops the ball with a muddled and uninspiring sports flick.