Playing For Keeps

Two Reviews for you today.

Gerard Butler has stepped out of his 300 uniform and into some soccer
cleats. As a former international soccer star, George (Butler) is down on
his luck. He has no job, and he’s living in Virginia, attempting to
reconnect with his estranged son.

The story opens with some backstory about George’s past before quickly
tumbling into his present situation. George’s ex-wife (Jessica Biel) is
getting remarried, and his son Lewis (Noah Lomax) is having a hard time
learning to trust his real father after being separated for so long.

The plot quickly unfolds into a predictable “chick-flick” scenario, where
the main character is floundering and wants to get back what he once had.
His path to redemption comes in the form of coaching his son’s youth
soccer team, while fending off hordes of attractive soccer *moms* who want
to place hands on the well-sculpted Coach Dryer!

This film is incredibly formulaic, and it’s predictable every step of the
way. That said, Butler, Biel, and the rest of t*he cast* do an exceptional
job given what they had to work with. I even have to give some props to
the young actor, Noah Lomax, for giving a noteworthy performance as the

While there were some great chuckles and all-out laughs mixed with a few
touching moments, it’s hard to look past the poor production values of this
film. Many of the scenes were filmed in a free-hand format. The shaking is
not just noticeable, but rampant throughout the film. It’s very
distracting, and downright shoddy film-making.

The directing wasn’t bad, in general, but I think a more seasoned director
would have at least chosen better angles. Case-in-point: many of the
scenes involving the red Ferrari were obviously lit with bright, white
lights reflecting off the surface of the car, giving us a view of grips and
other personnel behind the camera.

Dennis Quaid starts the film with a great role, and delivers a fantastic
performance. Unfortunately, after the jail scene, he’s oddly absent until
the end of the film. His absence was so awkward that it distracted me from
the people who were on the screen. I even asked myself: where did Dennis
Quaid’s character go?

Uma Thurman, playing Quaid’s character’s wife, and Catherine-Zeta Jones,
playing a soccer mom, did a marvelous job (again, despite not having much
to work with).

The Hollywood stars saved this film from rating lower, due to their vast
acting experience and talent, but I can’t recommend the movie as a whole.
Even their performances weren’t enough to keep Playing For Keeps in the
same ballpark as a well-produced film. It’s shoddy movie-making at best.

I recommend you wait to watch this one at home and save your movie theater
budget for another flick, *but if you are into chick-flicks, Playing for
Keeps will not disappoint.*

2 out of 5 stars.

Edited By: Jeff Boehm.

Second Review by Rebecca Fox

I’m going to start out by saying this movie is right up my ally. I’m an unabashed romance movie fan and have been my whole life. I even like most of those corny holiday movies they’re currently showing on the Hallmark channel. I had high hopes for this movie, I like soccer and I like every one of the big name actors that were cast in this movie. That’s why it hurts to say this movie is not worth seeing in the theater if at all.

We start with George Dryer, Gerard Butler, as a famous soccer star. He’s a very good player but gets a debilitating leg injury and is forced into early retirement. One of the many small inconsistencies is that this leg injury is never mentioned again, he doesn’t have a limp or weakness, and we never even find out which leg it is. Not a big deal but since I wasn’t in it, something like that sticks out. Naturally he’s not really trained for anything and is struggling to get work throughout the entire movie as a sports caster.

He has a young son Lewis, Noah Lomax, with Stacie, Jessica Biel, the only woman he’s ever truly loved. Lewis plays soccer and it’s at one of the practices that the current coach Len, Mike Martindale, is so bad that George steps in to help. George did so well that later in the evening Stacie calls him to ask him to take over the team since all the parents want him instead of Len. Len is atrocious, and not because he was a bad actor, the script made him ridiculous. Every practice he was on his cell phone, barely paying attention, telling the kids to kick the ball with their toes as the kids stood in gaggles on the field. He did this in front of all the parents, every practice. I don’t know if any of you have ever played sports as a kid or been a parent watching your kids play but that’s just unbelievable to the extreme. Someone would have said something and immediately.

Moving on, Stacie is able to guilt George into coaching and so it begins. He makes the team better but that’s more secondary. The story is supposed to be about George and Stacie finding each other again but jumps back and forth between several smaller stories never really focusing on one, let me explain. The cast was star studded, besides the huge actors already named there’s also Catherine Zeta-Jones, Uma Thurman, and Judy Greer, one of my favorite ladies of romantic comedies (and Archer). All these actors have their own story and bits but it pulls away from the main story.

There were some funny parts, but the pacing was too slow and I wasn’t drawn into the characters which is sad because the biggest stars did great in their rolls. Lastly, the biggest problem was the most important part of the movie is missing. The emotional arc, I knew there was one, but it barely registers and I didn’t feel it. I get more emotional over those made for TV holiday movies. If you want to watch this, or you’re curious, rent it. You won’t feel like you’re being tortured like some romance movies I’ve seen but it’s not a must watch by any stretch.

2 out of 5