Ex-convict and hustler, Gabriel Caine (James Woods, Once Upon a Time in America), makes a bet with crooked businessman, John Gillon (Bruce Dern, The Hateful Eight), that a middle-aged 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.
In a career spanning three decades, director Ritchie — Downhill Racer, The Bad News Bears, Wildcats — acquired a well-deserved reputation for making good sport films. He rivals Ron Shelton (White Men Can’t Jump and Bull Durham) as cinema’s most notorious sports-filmmaker. Diggstown is Ritchie’s only boxing movie and he does a fine job balancing all elements of the screenplay.
Having a great cast at your disposal makes things easier. James Woods and Louis Gossett Jr. seem to be enjoying themselves and they have a palpable enthusiasm that is infectious. Bruce Dern plays a fabulously slimy villain. The strong supporting cast includes Heather Graham (Boogie Nights), Oliver Platt (Flatliners), James Caviezel (Passion of Christ), and Michael McGrady (The Babe) — they are all good.
Oscar-winning composer 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. Although it’s a bit far-fetched and predictable, it’s also completely enjoyable. Color, 98 minutes, Rated R.