"Play It To The Bone" is writer / director Ron Sheldon's latest foray into the world of testosterone laden sports movies. Shelton's earlier films like "Bull Durham" and "White Men Can't Jump" were great examples of tapping into the supercharged energy that surrounds sports lifestyle. But in "Play it to the Bone" however, that energy is diffused in this would be road-trip buddy movie boxing flick.
"Play it to the Bone" features the unlikely pairing of silver screen super studs Woody Harrelson as Vince Boudreau and Antonio Banderas as Cesar Dominquez in a macho boxing film. Both play washed up boxers who train together in LA - and dream of getting another chance at being a world-class fighter. So when Cesar's ex-agent calls them up to appear in Vegas that night as the opening fight for the next Mike Tyson bout - the duo go into action.
Bandares and Harrelson share everything including the movies female love interest, Grace Pasic (Lolita Davidovich) who they recruit to drive them from LA to Vegas in her Lime green 72 Oldsmobile 442 convertible. Grace of course has her own agenda beyond flirting with both leading men and that's trying to peddle her wacky patents and inventions onto the seedy fight promoter and Vegas mogul played by Robert Wagner.
The first two-thirds of "Play it to the Bone" feels as lost, as the main characters seem on their road trip to Vegas. The lengthy time is filled with lots of heartfelt storytelling about the events that drove the heroes into obscurity. This melancholy is tempered by Vince's strange sightings of Jesus and Cesar's confessions of having experimented with homosexuality in his harder times. All of which seems incredibly out of place, and hardly what the trailers promise in terms of pacing or fun.
"Play it to the Bone" is at its best when the fight actually happens. Not only is the gruesome action of a relentless 10 rounds of fighting one of the best boxing sequences ever filmed. But it also includes the best scene where Lucy Liu (best known as Ling from TV's "Ally McBeal"), plays Lea, a hitchhiking tramp, who pick pockets her newest date, Rod Stewart, appearing as one of many celebrity cameos in the fight arenas crowd.
"Play it to the Bone" may have worked earlier in the careers for Harreleson and Banderas, but somehow this seems like an embarrassing step backwards for both actors. And although boxing is supposed to be the Directors favorite sport, he delivers this tale with the same excitement as your typical Tyson fight: only one solid round of action and a lot of hot air.
© 2002 - Purple - Air Date: 1/12/00
Play It to the Bone
USA - 1999