If you’ve seen the previews Playing for Keeps, starring Scottish hottie Gerard Butler as a down on his luck single dad, you’d be correct in labeling it a typical romantic comedy. Too bad Playing for Keeps is at the bottom of the rom-com barrel (and my bar for such films is considerably lower than for other genres). It’s neither funny nor romantic, and offers little in the way of substance or genuine entertainment.
George Dryer (Butler) is a former soccer star who’s recently moved to Virginia to be closer to his son and ex (Jessica Biel). Driving a beat up sports car, ducking calls from bill collectors, and dodging his landlord, George is clearly past his glory days as an international sports star and has moved on to the decidedly less-flashy pastures of broadcasting (where he’s having zero luck). His personal life fairs little better — he is constantly late picking his son up, and his ex is getting married. He’s even completely indifferent to the wiles of the many soccer moms vying for his attention (even when he’s giving in to them).Things change (kind of) when George starts coaching his son’s soccer team. He makes friends with an influential dad (Dennis Quaid), who lets him borrow a shiny red Ferrari, and one of the soccer moms (Katherine Zeta-Jones) who happens to be a former sportscaster and helps George in his job search. A typical story ensues — George struggles to rebuild his relationship with his son and ex while also trying to regain financial stability.
Overall, Playing for Keeps is a lackluster mess. None of the characters are unique in any way and the story is bland as tapioca. Like I said before, it’s not funny or romantic, unless you count George unenthusiastically accepting the lusty affections of various soccer moms as humorous, and the indiscernible history between him and his ex as romantic. Not to mention, the whole basis for George’s arc — his new role as suburban soccer coach — fades into the background after a while.
Despite the weak story (or maybe because of it), you’ll notice a number of big-name celebrities appearing in minor roles. Given my (not surprising) disappointment with the characters and story as whole, I was left wondering why these established actors — Uma Thurman, Zeta-Jones, and Quaid most notably — would take on such plain roles. Either they’re really bored, desperate for work or just don’t give a crap anymore.
Playing for Keeps is a sad excuse for a rom-com, with a lack of humor or genuine emotion rendering it unsalvageable, even by some respected Hollywood talent. Sure, Gerard Butler is hot, but ladies, I’d hit up Netflix for The Bounty Hunter before I’d pay to see this sorry excuse for entertainment.