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Playing For Keeps
George used to have the sporting world at his feet as a professional footballer, with a beautiful wife Stacie and cherubic son Lewis. Unfortunately, George allowed his celebrity to go to his head, and his roving eye eventually led to divorce. Years have passed and now George has retired from the beautiful game and relocated to Virginia to reconnect with Lewis and perhaps win back Stacie. Unfortunately, she has a handsome fiance, Matt, and still bears the scars of George's infidelity.
Poor Gerard Butler's not had a great time at the box office of late. Machine Gun Preacher and Chasing Mavericks weren't complete stinkers, unlike The Bounty Hunter, but they didn't set the world alight either. And unfortunately his latest offering Playing For Keeps isn't likely too either. Billed as a 'feel-good romp', Butler retains his native accent to play former Scottish football star George Dryer who's fallen on hard times. In an attempt to get his life back in order, Dryer rolls up in suburban Virginia to try and 'reconnect' with his estranged nine-year-old son Lewis (Noah Lomax) and ex Stacie (Jessica Biel). It's not long before he's enlisted to coach the local Little League football team but any attempt to finally 'grow-up' is thwarted by the hive of attractive and sexually frustrated "soccer moms" and a pushy, back-slapping soccer dad (Dennis Quaid) who pursue George for their own ends. As Butler, who also acted as a producer on the film, has admitted, Playing For Keeps is "not reinventing the wheel" but this comedy falls far short of its potential. It's directed by Gabriele Muccino who helmed the 2006 hit The Pursuit Of Happyness starring Will Smith and his real-life son. But where that film focused on father-son bonding, this movie feels awkwardly disjointed. Perhaps the script is to blame as bar a couple of strong one-liners it lacks any originality or wit. It doesn't help that the film doesn't seem to know what it wants to be either. There are wonderfully touching moments between Butler, who's winningly charming, and his cute son, played by newcomer Lomax. But just when you're feeling moved, along totters a panting and scantily clad Uma Thurman as trophy housewife Patti and suddenly the tone shifts into a sexual farce. Catherine Zeta-Jones is less cringe-some as the femme fatale Denise who helps Dryer get an ESPN sports-caster gig, but only after she has had her wicked way with him. And Judy Greer puts in a sweet performance as neurotic and newly single mum Barb. But Dryer's true love, and the one he let slip away is Stacie, who's all set to marry her long-term boyfriend (James Tupper). Will Dryer be able to persuade her that he's really a reformed man? The blatant and longing looks should signpost the answer... Given the cast and director, Playing For Keeps warrants being a whole lot better but it also doesn't deserve the critical mauling it has received from some quarters. Frothy, fun and farcical, think of it as an antidote to heavy Christmas indulgence.
- Genre: Comedy Romance
- Cast:Catherine Zeta-Jones, Uma Thurman, Iqbal Theba, Judy Greer, Dennis Quaid, Jessica Biel, Gerard Butler, James Tupper, Noah Lomax.
- Director:Gabriele Muccino.
- Writer:Robbie Fox.
- Official Site:www.playingforkeepsmovie.com