Playing For Keeps – Movie Review

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Playing for Keeps

Starring: Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel, Catherine Zeta- Jones, Dennis Quaid, Uma Thurman, Judy Greer

Directed by Gabriele Muccino

Rated: PG-13
Run Time: 106 mins
Genre: Comedy/ Romance
3 frames out of 5

Aging former soccer god, “King” George Dryer (Gerard Butler) has moved to the town where his ex-wife and son currently reside. George’s fortune from his soccer glory days has dried up from a mix of the current economic climate and a series of poor business decisions. Now George is trying to rebuild his life, starting first with the relationship with his 9 year-old son, Lewis (Noah Lomax). His ex-wife, Stacie (Jessica Biel) is about to get married to her boyfriend of 3 years, Matt (James Tupper), and this doesn’t bode well with George as he still is in love with her. Trying to get back in Stacie’s good graces by being a better father, George is coerced into coaching Lewis’s soccer team.

George is not only an enormous hit with the kids, but with the soccer parents as well, especially the mothers. Soon after he takes on the coaching role, several mothers are throwing themselves at Coach George, and not in a subtle way. Barb (Judy Greer) is a newly divorcee, looking to get past her failed marriage. Denise (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is Samantha’s mother and used to be a well-known sportscaster. If George helps her “out”, she thinks she can land him a dream job at ESPN. Married couple Carl (Dennis Quaid) and Patti (Uma Thurman) have issues galore, with the money to back their strange behavior. Carl takes George under his wing, introducing him into Virginia society.

When George’s philandering behavior is witnessed by Lewis firsthand, he wants nothing to do with his father. Not knowing what to do, George turns to Stacie for parenting advice and tries to make peace with his past. Can an aging ladies man ever grow up to be the father his son needs and the man that his ex-wife always wanted him to be?

In an attempt to be a clever, male driven romantic-comedy, Playing for Keeps doesn’t quite score the amount of laughs needed to be unique and different. This film is more of a pallet cleanser between now and the films released in time for Christmas. This film is more guy friendly than anything, but leaves little room for creative storytelling or genuine chemistry to build between the actors. Most of the time, the ladies cast, are running around like hormone, sex-starved teenagers star stuck by a substitute David Beckham type aging sports star. Gerard Butler’s evolution from childish, selfish, over indulgent ladies man to caring soccer coach dad is rather rushed. The chemistry between Biel and Butler is rather rushed and feels more like brother- sister than ex lovers torn apart by pride and unhealthy decisions. I think Biel’s role was poorly cast and would have been better with a slightly older actress like Kate Beckinsale or Isla Fisher, still who look young, but have better comedy chops.

Things to watch for: Holy ab action Batman! Gerard Butler in a towel… Rawr!

Who should see this movie: Fans of Gerard Butler’s rom-coms

See it in the Theater or Rent it on DVD: DVD would be better

About Lisa Minzey

Lisa Minzey is Editor in Chief of The Reel She has written for Phoenix Film Foundation, an online contributor for and is known to write a screenplay or 12. She's worked in Hollywood in various forms, but her first love is writing. She currently resides in Los Angeles.

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