Ex-convict and hustler, Gabriel Caine (James Woods, Videodrome), makes a bet with crooked businessman, John Gillon (Bruce Dern, Nebraska), that a middle-age ex-boxer, “Honey” Roy Palmer (Louis Gossett Jr., An Officer and A Gentleman), can knock out any ten local men.
Reaction & Thoughts:
Some movies make you think. Some movies even inspire you to be a better person. And a movie like Diggstown simply aims to entertain you. Directed by Michael Ritchie (Fletch) from a screenplay by Steven McKay based on Leonard Wise’s 1978 novel The Diggstown Ringers, this sport/con hybrid sits comfortably between the feel-good ’80s and the grungy ’90s. It’s emotional, funny, and cynical in equal doses. Although it’s a bit far-fetched and predictable, it’s also completely enjoyable.
In a career that spanned three decades, director Ritchie — Downhill Racer, The Bad News Bears, Wildcats — acquired a well-deserved reputation for making good sport films. Diggstown is his only boxing movie. Ritchie does a fine job balancing all the varied elements of the screenplay.
Having a great cast at your disposal makes things easier. Woods and Gossett Jr. seem to be enjoying themselves and they have a palpable enthusiasm that is infectious. Dern play a fabulously slimy villain. The strong supporting cast includes Heather Graham (Boogie Nights), Oliver Platt (Flatliners), James Caviezel (Passion of Christ), Randall ‘Tex’ Cobb, and Michael McGrady (The Babe)– they are all good.
James Newton Howard (The Dark Knight and The Hunger Games) comes up with a pleasant music score. The atmospheric cinematography is by Gerry Fisher (The Offence and Wise Blood).
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
Diggstown is a well-crafted, fun movie, perfect for a relaxing night at home. It has a game cast and good production values. Color, 98 minutes, Rated R.