5.4/10
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Play It to the Bone (1999)

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

Director:

Ron Shelton

Writer:

Ron Shelton

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Antonio Banderas ... Cesar Dominguez
Woody Harrelson ... Vince Boudreau
Lolita Davidovich ... Grace Pasic
Marie Park ... Waitress in Cafe
Tom Sizemore ... Joe Domino
Lucy Liu ... Lia
Robert Wagner ... Hank Goody
Richard Masur ... Artie
Willie Garson ... Cappie Caplan
Cylk Cozart Cylk Cozart ... Rudy
Jack Carter ... Dante Solomon
Aida Turturro ... Mad Greek Waitress
Louie Leonardo ... Freddy Green
Slade Barnett Slade Barnett ... Vegas Cop
Cameron Milzer Cameron Milzer ... Vegas Paramedic
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Storyline

Two aging fighters in LA, friends, get a call from a Vegas promoter because his undercard fighters for a Mike Tyson bout that night are suddenly unavailable. He wants them to box each other. They agree as long as the winner gets a shot at the middleweight title. They enlist Grace, Cesar's current and Vinnie's ex girlfriend, to drive them to Vegas. On the trip, we see flashbacks to their previous title shots, their competitive friendship, and Grace's motivational wiles. (She has her own entrepreneurial dreams.) The fight itself is historic: ten rounds of savagery and courage. Who will win, who'll get the title shot, who gets Grace, and where will she find venture capital? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Two best friends take a shot at hitting it big. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Sport

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for brutal ring violence, strong sexuality including dialogue, nudity, pervasive language and some drug content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

21 January 2000 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Play It See more »

Filming Locations:

Baker, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$24,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,366, 26 December 1999, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$8,427,204, 12 March 2000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color (DeLuxe)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Reunited Woody Harrelson with Writer and Director Ron Shelton after White Men Can't Jump (1992). See more »

Goofs

In the Greek restaurant, as Grace leaves for the restrooms outside, an extra (girl reading a paper) passes the boxers as they stay seated. In the next shot the same girl, reading the paper, comes on walking from where she must have been before we saw her following in the direction Grace left. See more »

Quotes

Grace Pasic: Cesar, it was a nice three months together.
Cesar Dominguez: Six. It was six months, honey.
Grace Pasic: But only three were nice.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Italian and German theatrical release are approx. 15 minutes shorter than the original US version, removing one sex scene and some dialogue. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Granada Reports: 8 August 2018: Evening Bulletin (2018) See more »

Soundtracks

No Money
Performed by Martin Blasick
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User Reviews

 
Disappointing effort from master of sports movies
27 January 2000 | by SKG-2See all my reviews

The story goes that Ron Shelton wanted to make a biopic of Bob Marley, but the financing fell through, and in a few weeks time, he wrote this boxing film. "That's okay," you think. "This is Ron Shelton. Sure, he co-wrote THE GREAT WHITE HYPE, which was disappointing, but he didn't direct that one. He did write and direct BULL DURHAM, WHITE MEN CAN'T JUMP, COBB, and TIN CUP(well, he co-wrote the last one, but let's not split hairs), all great sports movies, so he could probably do a boxing movie in his sleep." Well, unfortunately, that's what he seems to have done in this disappointing movie.

Shelton was reportedly inspired by a true-life fight where the preliminary match also turned out to be much more compelling than the featured attraction, which would seem tailor-made for him. And like the other Shelton heroes, the characters of Vince(Harrelson) and Cesar(Banderas) aren't among the great ones, though they've flirted with greatness. Finally, certainly the idea is right in place, that the point is not who of these best friends wins the fight(without revealing the ending, I will say it's not only logical, but feels right), but the fact they each got this last shot and put on a good show. The problem, until the fight scenes, is the execution.

Shelton usually has a gift for dialogue and character, especially when romantic comedy is concerned, but he seems to have mislaid it here. Vince and Cesar are pretty much ciphers from the beginning, despite the obvious chemistry Harrelson and Banderas have between them. There are traits which are mildly funny(like the fact that a boxer would watch soaps), but nothing that adds up. Even the fact that Vince is a "Jesus" freak seems incoherent rather than part of the character. And the dialogue between them, except in the scenes when they're talking at the same time, seems lame, relying on easy homophobia and vulgarity rather than being funny(compare that to the clever trash talk in WHITE MEN CAN'T JUMP). And even when Davidovich enters the picture, though she gamely tries, she's got nothing to work with, and seems oddly mismatched with Banderas. Harrelson at least she seems comfortable with, but they don't have enough scenes together.

The fight scenes are where Shelton finally comes alive. The behind-the-scenes details of how the fight gets into place and such are familiar, but well-handled. And the fight is compelling to us, so it's believable that the rest of the arena would find it so as well. We see the fighters being given advice, but since they think they know each other, they sometimes ignore it to do their own thing. And you really believe at the end they're both fighting on pure adrenaline. Even Davidovich becomes believable here as she realizes she loves both of them, and while she understands they need this, can't bear to watch them hurt each other. Yet even here, Shelton messes up. There are too many T&A shots, which are supposed to reflect how the fighters' minds are fogged up, but are more likely there to get people to hoot. Ultimately, I hope this is a blip on Shelton's career, rather than a sign he's losing it.


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