Movie Review: Playing for Keeps just doesn’t score

December 10th, 2012 at 4:43 pm by under THRS Movie Reviews

Click here to watch the Playing for Keeps trailer!

Now playing Hampton Roads… Playing for Keeps.   Gerard Butler stars as George – a former superstar soccer player on the international stage sidelined by an injury and left to wallow in his money and lose everything, especially the love of his life (Jessica Beil) and their son Lucas (Noah Lomax).

Trying to get it back together, he moves to Northern Virginia where Stacie and Lucas are, to try and be near them and hopefully find a job as a sportscaster.   He soon finds himself roped into being Lucas’s soccer coach and discovers that having women throwing themselves at him wasn’t something that only happened on the big stage.  Apparently sex-starved soccer moms were waiting for him.

And cue the women — Uma Thurman, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Judy Greer all wind up embarrassing themselves in the name of his hotness.  Even the soccer dads are swooning.  Dennis Quaid plays a wealthy dad who throws an envelope full of cash at the new coach in order to secure the national anthem performance for his daughter and some playing time for his son.

The film is supposed to be a romantic comedy, but the romance (between George and Lucas’s mom Stacie) comes way too far into the film.  And the comedy doesn’t come.  There is drama thrown in as George discovers his mistakes are bigger than he thought and trying to overcome it all is a little overwhelming.  The bromance with Quaid’s character goes nowhere, and other characters are left hanging.

The film is directed by Gabriele Muccino (“The Pursuit of Happyness”) and written by Robbie Fox.  It has plot holes, underdeveloped characters, badly directed acting and continuity problems (my pet peeve in films!). Do not get me started on “she’s there and then gone” Uma Thurman in the bleachers.

This film had to have looked good on paper, in order to get the likes of Thurman, Zeta-Jones and Greer (whose turn in last year’s The Descendants was fantastic).   So what happened from paper to film? I have no idea.

I didn’t expect much from Jessica Beil and she delivered.  Her character had the most to work with, but the actress never got to believable territory for me.  And Butler, while he had some vulnerability in George, just didn’t make it to “naturalville”.   You can see he has the potential for box office greatness in the rom-com genre, but most of his film choices have been terrible.

The one thing I will long remember about this film is Noah Lomax.  He is a gifted child actor.  He managed to make me get Lucas even when the story parts didn’t make sense.  Hope to see him again…

What I wont be seeing again is this movie.  When it comes to the box office, I’m sure Playing for Keeps won’t be playing much longer, especially with the amount of true quality film making now showing around Hampton Roads.


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

One Response to “Movie Review: Playing for Keeps just doesn’t score”

  1. Joan says:

    It’s odd how this film which is a beautiful,warm hearted story,which many critics actually like is having such a hard time from the LATimes and a small amount of others. Gerard Butler is a great actor and several of his films machine Gun Preacher and Coriolanus have been Oscar Worthy. Bad distribution meant that lots if people who wanted to see these films were deliberately denied the opportunity. For Shame. I understand Coriolanus is now being used as part of the Uk,s University’s teaching curiculum. Rafe Fiennes did a fantastic job on a difficult Shakespearean play. Kudos
    I will be going to see Playing for Keeps and so will a lot of others. It has huge international appeal. .love the trailers Mr.B. great cast.
    Joan (hug) xxxxx

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