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Movie Review: ‘Playing For Keeps’
BY ROB HEDELT
THE FREE LANCE-STAR
“PLAYING FOR KEEPS” (PG–13)
2 out of 4 stars
GERARD BUTLER, JESSICA BIEL, DENNIS QUAID, UMA THURMAN, CATHERINE ZETA–JONES
There’s nothing terribly wrong with this film about a former soccer star who finally grows up by coaching his son following a divorce.
But there’s not all that much right about it either, other than Gerard Butler’s slight charm and a sweet—though thoroughly predictable—story.
What’s really missing here is a compelling transformation. Butler’s character, a former Irish soccer star, needs to be wild and bad in the beginning of the film so he can undergo a major moment of maturity by film’s end.
But as portrayed in this plodding tale, he isn’t bad. He is merely clueless as so many soccer moms start throwing themselves at him once he starts coaching.
This would-be romantic comedy needs a shot of Butler’s character being a cad and a wild man just so he can give all that up when he realizes that his son and ex-wife (a strangely lifeless and bland Jessica Biel) are what he really wants in life.
It’s a typically bland Hollywood tale, with occasionally entertaining scenes connected by little more than action footage or family montages.
The biggest shame is the way a pretty good supporting cast—Dennis Quaid, Uma Thurman, Catherine Zeta–Jones—is wasted in humdrum twists and turns.
Butler isn’t a bad actor and, when pushed by good material, can deliver.
Here, he isn’t asked to do much more than smile, flirt and kick a soccer ball. It’s just enough to make this another mediocre flick.
Rated PG–13 for sexual situations, language and a brief intense image. 95 min. [MC, RA, RF]