Playing for Keeps Review
Runtime: 105 mins
Directed By: Gabriele Muccino
Writer: Robbie Fox
Distributed: FilmDistrict, Open Road Films
Starring: Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel, Uma Thurman, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Judy Greer, and Dennis Quaid
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars. Entertaining but nothing too amazing.
George Dryer was a famous soccer player who has fallen from grace. Now he’s moved to Virginia to repair his relationship with his son and ex-wife. Dryer winds up coaching his son’s soccer team while trying to get a job as a sportscaster and learning to be a good dad. Contending with soccer moms, financial problems, and learning how to be a father, the movie is a story of Dryer learning how to be a grown up.
Playing for keeps is a hard movie to classify. It has an awful lot of sex for a family movie, and it’s not a romantic comedy as the plot revolves as mostly around Dryer’s relationship with his son. Dryer is trying to patch things up with his ex, who is getting married to the blandest guy in the movie. The fiancé gets all of 10 lines through the whole movie and is just a prop representing a barrier to Dryer getting back with his ex. The center of conflict throughout the movie is the various soccer moms, played by a wonderful assortment of actresses embracing their ages. The movie makes you feel sorry for Dryer, as many of the problems he faces stem from drama with these ladies that are often no fault of his.
The cast makes the movie. The story can be a little jumbled at times, and probably would have made the movie completely forgettable if not for great performances all around. Uma Thurman, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Judy Greer form a trifecta of sexually frustrated soccer moms. Thurman and Zeta-Jones are smoldering older ladies while Greer plays a manic but believable single mom who almost mirrors Dryer’s situation. Dennis Quaid is great as a slimy suburbanite that will leave you wracking your brain about how he makes his money. Noah Lomax, who plays Dryer’s son gives an okay performance for a child actor. It’s nothing special, but it could’ve been much worse. Jessica Beil and Gerard Butler are the crux of the film and both give great performances that make you care about the characters for more than the script might have otherwise. Butler proves that he can really play any role he wants, from Dracula to a Spartan King. He’s tried his hands at romantic comedies before, but this time he gets it right.