“Playing for Keeps” Keeps Gerard Butler’s String of Crappy Rom-Coms Alive and Well | HumorOutcasts

“Playing for Keeps” Keeps Gerard Butler’s String of Crappy Rom-Coms Alive and Well

December 15, 2012
Playing for Keeps starring Gerard Butler and Jessica Biel

Playing for Keeps starring Gerard Butler and Jessica Biel

The new romantic comedy, Playing for Keeps, starring Gerard Butler and Jessica Biel, is neither a romance nor a comedy.  So what is it?  Well, it still baffles me, but I’ll venture that Playing for Keeps is a watered down Lifetime movie about a washed up soccer star (Butler) who tries to get his life together by coaching his son’s soccer team.  Except George (that’s Butler) can’t catch a break with all the deprived soccer moms hurling their vaginas at him.

Predictability and a lead pace weigh the movie down and mar an otherwise adequate, yet boring script.  The ensemble cast of actors have a difficult time lending any believability to their characters.  Judy Greer, Uma Thurman and Catherine Zeta-Jones all have cardboard roles as horny housewives who inadvertently thwart George’s intention to get back on track.  They either leer or cry spontaneously to convey brittle insecurity.

Gerard Butler and Jessica Biel fare a little better in their roles, but only because they have more screen time.  Biel has an uncommon beauty that the role seems to tamp down by apparently giving her every frumpy and baggy sweater to wear.  She’s all cheekbones, so high they’re liable to shoot out the sides of her face.  As ex-wife Stacie, Biel is the voice of reason and the stable presence in son, Lewis’ life (played ably by Noah Lomax). She’s sensible, dutiful, tender-hearted and you just know every good character gets rewarded in this kind of movie.

Butler’s George is not a bad man.  It’s just that his Scottish burr, lean physique and wavy locks seem to do the poor guy in every time.  Such troubles.  Still, Butler let’s us see why George is so magnetic.  There is a core of decency in him, but Butler seems reluctant to reveal the bad boy within.  Instead, we witness George begrudgingly diddle these one-note wenches just because, but no why.

While George coaches Lewis’ soccer team and tries to be a better dad, he’s also giving a crack at sports broadcasting.  Stacie is getting remarried to Matt (James Tupper in another thankless role as walking mannequin), while the ‘tang trail never seems to let up on George.  If you’re not laughing, it’s because not even the screenwriter or director (Gabriele Muccino) knew how to pump any humor into this stale plot.

The casual sex romps are played for light laughs (I’m being generous, it wasn’t funny at all), but Playing for Keeps is so unsure of its tone (is it a rom-com or family drama?), you just wind up scratching your head – and worse – bored.  We’re obviously supposed to cheer for George to get his life back, and just so, his slutty ways are never meant to be judged as misogynistic or mean.  You see, George is just a helpless scamp; it’s the unquenchable throng of lonely soccer moms who are to blame for his errant ways.  Ok, so what does that make these women?  Whether intended or not, for this reason alone, Playing for Keeps comes off exactly as misogynistic.

But the movie’s biggest sin?  It’s not even funny.  The awakening romantic tension between George and Stacie builds slowly throughout the film, and while it’s definitely believable, there’s a predictable, humorless quality to their chemistry that prevents you from caring whether they wind up together or not.  And by the time George learns his life lesson, keeps it in his pants and the credits begin to roll, I couldn’t leave the theater fast enough to get a stiff drink and a random lay.

Jack Aiello

Experiences, rants, musings. I'm never satisfied, unless it involves bacon.

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3 Responses to “Playing for Keeps” Keeps Gerard Butler’s String of Crappy Rom-Coms Alive and Well

  1. Deb Martin-Webster
    December 20, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    You mean women actually care about his acting or the movies he’s in?? I heart him!

  2. December 16, 2012 at 11:43 am

    In a week there will be no more available Little League coaching slots open anywhere. Something’s up.

  3. December 16, 2012 at 8:47 am

    Too bad such beauty and talent were wasted in this movie!

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