Rating: 1 star out of 5
Unfortunately for Gerard Butler and the rest of us, his output since breaking out with ‘300’ has been absolutely abysmal. ‘Playing For Keeps’ is no different. His performance is sorely lacking here too, overshadowed only by the bigger problems the film has on its hands.
Gerard Butler plays George Dryer, a former professional football soccer star who is down and out. His finances are in a perilous state and his relationships are worse—he moved back to Virginia to be closer to his son, Lewis, and ex-wife Stacie. At one of Lewis’ routine soccer training sessions, George’s disdain for the disrespectful manner the coach conducts training leads him to take over. His good looks, skills and ability to get along with the children leads to the parents requesting he take over the team—thrusting him into a kooky world of attractive soccer moms and kiddie soccer.
‘Playing For Keeps’ tries to please the audience crowd and while there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, there’s a huge problem with how the movie is actually executed. The movie is a bi-polar mess; it seemingly cannot make up its mind between conveying the simple emotional story of George trying to win both his kid and wife back and the ludicrous flirtations that he has with the various soccer moms played by Uma Thurman, Catherine-Zeta Jones and Judy Greer.
Who needs to go to the clubs to pick up women when there are plenty to choose from at kids' soccer games?
Tonally, it’s almost completely incoherent, shifting from a feeble attempt at being a sex obsessed movie about a soccer star boinking soccer moms to a wannabe tearjerker family drama with the snap of a finger. The only valuable lesson it offers is—all men should take a leaf out of George’s book and skip the clubs and head straight for those kiddie soccer games because that’s obviously where the action’s at.
The cast is likable but the writing is so lazy and uninspired. The hot soccer moms are caricatures that never fail to exist on anything more than a two dimensional plane, and you’ll never really know or understand why their characters do what they do.
It’s quite disconcerting to see how the filmmakers attracted a cast of this calibre, because they sure as hell did not do it with a quality script. Dennis Quaid’s manic performance as a greasy, old rich sleaze ball who befriends George is so over the top and hammy that it seems like a performance only made possible by the inhalation of certain illegal substances.
To top it all off, the plot and story are painfully predictable. Folks, you can predict the outcome of this movie in the first 10 minutes and have it ring true at the end. Worse still, the writers didn’t even bother throwing any curveballs to try and distract you from that result. Nor did they even attempt to build any form of emotional investment in the characters to make a conventional/formulaic ending tolerable.
Neither funny nor romantic, ‘Playing For Keeps’ is a lazy, predictable and embarrassing mess that panders to the lowest common denominator of audiences by trying to tug at the heart strings of audiences and distract them with the sex appeal of glamorous Hollywood stars. Fortunately, audiences will know better.