Dan's Review: Playing For Keeps

Published 12/04 2012 04:48PM

Updated 12/06 2012 04:50PM

Jessica Biel and Gerard Butler in Playing for Keeps.
Jessica Biel and Gerard Butler in Playing for Keeps./Film District
Playing For Keeps (Film District)

Rated PG-13 for some sexual situations, language and a brief intense image.

Starring Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel, Noah Lomax, Dennis Quaid, Uma Thurman, Catherine Zeta-Jones, James Tupper, Judy Greer.

Written by Robbie Fox.

Directed by Gabriele Muccino.



As a general rule, romantic comedies should be funny and romantic. Playing For Keeps, a movie about a divorced dad trying to patch up his relationship with his son and ex-wife is neither.

Gerard Butler stars as George, a washed-up international soccer star living near his ex-wife Stacie (Jessica Biel) and son Lewis (Noah Lomax) while trying to break into TV sports broadcasting business.

When George takes over as the coach for Lewis' soccer team, all the soccer moms get the hots for him (including the married ones). George indulges the advances of divorcee barb (Judy Greer) and Denise (Catherine Zeta-Jones), who also happens to be a retired sportscaster and promises to help him "get into the business" (after a little tumble, of course).

George also becomes friends with Carl (Dennis Quaid), a wealthy businessman who uses bribery to get pretty much everything he wants. Carl's wife Patti (Uma Thurman) also becomes one of the many women in line to climb into bed with George.

As George shows more interest in his son, he also begins to ponder what life would be like if he got back together with Stacie, who is conflicted since she's supposed to get married to her current live-in boyfriend Matt.

Will George finally grow up? Will Stacie get married to Matt? Will George move away to take on a new job opportunity, thus ruining the new bond he has with his son?

Playing For Keeps is billed as a romantic comedy, all packaged to look like a holiday treat.

The bad news is, it has nothing to do with the holidays, and what's worse is it's neither funny or romantic.

Gerard Butler, who gets a producer credit in the film sleepwalks his way to a very convincing version of himself among an ensemble of talented actors who ought to know better than to appear in such a terrible movie. That said, Butler's performance isn't as bad as that of Quaid, who comes off as a clingy psychopath.

The moral of the story in Playing For Keeps is equally confusing, offering up sage wisdom like: Bad boys are much better than stable guys, lust is equal to love and stupid behavior ought to be rewarded.

I suppose the only audience that might draw some sort of pleasure from Playing For Keeps would be women who get all weak in the knees at the sight of Butler with his shirt off. For the rest of us, Playing For Keeps is a complete waste of time.

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