Playing for Keeps

Gerard Butler, Playing for Keeps, Jessica Biel, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Uma Thurman, Dennis Quaid

Playing for Keeps looked like it would be a typical rom-com: it had a cute trailer, and I'm a fan of Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and all of the other A-listers who are in this film. However, although the movie does have some nice moments, overall I found that even Gerard couldn't save this film.

George (Butler) is a former soccer star who hit his peak in the late '90s, before he retired. Since then, he hasn't done much of anything, except he was once married to Stacie (Biel) and they now have an 8-year-old son together, Lewis. George walked out on them when Lewis was four, but he's recently moved to their suburban town of Virginia, and wants to spend more time with his son. He also finds out that Stacie is about to marry her boyfriend of three years, Matt. After George is a hit at Lewis's soccer practice one day, Stacie and the other moms ask him to coach the team; he agrees, and is able to spend more time with Lewis. This also means, however, that he has to deal with the soccer moms, be they divorced or married but unhappily, and they are all infatuated with the hot new soccer coach. George, however, only has eyes for one woman, but unfortunately it's the one he can't be with.

I was surprised that this movie wasn't that funny considering the amount of talented cast members it has. It's pretty bad when the funniest person in a rom-com is actually someone who has very little screen time, and in this case it was George's landlord, an Indian man who asked him how he "got all the ladies," as he saw some of the soccer moms leaving George's guest house late at night. Gerard Butler was as charming as always, but the script seemed to be lacking - it's also a bad thing if I don't like this movie, because I tend to like most "chick flicks," too. You also have Zeta-Jones, Biel (who has no chemistry with Butler), Uma Thurman, Michigan native Judy Greer, and Dennis Quaid stuffed into this film, but unfortunately they don't have much material to work with.

I was going to give this movie a Maybe review, but I'm actually going to give it a No. Although there were some parts of the film I enjoyed, I found the story to be very cliche. A cliche story is often fine when you have a decent script or some interesting characters, but Playing for Keeps lacks both of these, and I don't think Jessica Biel was the right choice to star opposite Gerard Butler here. I would have liked to see more flashbacks or have their past delved into more as well; at the beginning, we see some soccer clips from George's heyday, and we learn that he left his family when his son was young, but that is all we get in terms of character development, for the most part. Since it's almost Christmas, there will be a lot of new releases coming up soon in the theater, and Playing for Keeps is unable to compete (no pun intended) with what I'm sure will be more quality entertainment.

Playing for Keeps is in theaters today, December 7th, and is rated PG-13 with a runtime of 106 minutes. 2 stars out of 5.

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