Playing for Keeps Movie Review – Gerard Butler is our Scottish heartthrob at the center of a cooky whirlwind of events and characters that make up the romantic comedy ‘Playing for Keeps’. This is a greatly different genre type than director Gabriele Muccino’s last major project, ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’. A retired European soccer star, George (Butler), moves to an American suburb in attempts to reconnect with his young son Lewis (Noah Lomax) and possibly, his ex Stacie (Jessica Biel). Having been absent for the last few years, he’ll have to gain Lewis‘ trust and deal with the difficult news that Stacie plans to marry her uninteresting boyfriend. While aspiring to land a job as a sports newscaster, George inadvertently becomes the coach for the local junior soccer team that his son plays for. It’s through this chance occurrence that George becomes surrounded by the parents of the young soccer players; and hence, the stage is set for wild character interactions and plot twists, with some pretty hilarious results.
Though the majority of major plot chapters are painfully predictable, it’s the neurotic, sex-depraved adult figures that become the enjoyable element and driving force behind the progression of the movie. Dennis Quaid, playing Carl, is so over the top that it’s hard to determine if he struggled with portraying hid mildly psychotic (possibly crack-addicted?) character. I almost rather would have preferred seeing Carl played by Robert Downey Jr because he brings a certain realism to this type of character. Patti, Denise and Barb (Uma Thurman, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Judy Greer) are so powerless to their emotions and/or need for sex that these characters feel pretty one-dimensional. Above all, nearly all characters, beyond George and his family, are completely unreliable because of their total lack of responsibility and respect. This is an interesting juxtaposition, considering that the adults are acting more childish than their children. But this is what one can expect from the writer who brought us movies like ‘So I Married an Ax Murderer’ (1993) and ‘In the Army Now’ (1994). This being said, it’s also ironic that the blatant sense of neuroses is what gives ‘Playing for Keeps’ just enough of an entertainment factor to make it bearable.