This reviewer is a sucker for romantic comedies and even more of a pushover for ‘heavy’ father and son scenes so why, with “Playing For Keeps” being a romantic comedy with 2 moving father and son scenes does the movie fall flat? A major factor is that there isn’t chemistry between the star, Gerard Butler, and any other cast member. Though one should suspend logic when entering a movie theatre some things are just draw dropping out of place to ignore.
George Dryer (Butler) is a has-been international soccer player who has lost everything and moves to Virginia to try to win his ex-wife Stacie (Jessica Biel) back and, just as important, be part of his young son Lewis’s (Noah Lomax) life. Stacie is living with Matt (James Tupper)--his house? Her house? Their house?--in a big house while George doesn’t even have money to pay a security deposit on a guest house he rents.
Ladies, do you really fall for men who have stubble--or what we use to call 5 o’clock shadow? It seems to be THE item most actors are sporting these days. Catherine Zeta-Jones, Judy Greer and Uma Thurman fall all over themselves, and each other, to get George in bed almost the same day he starts to coach his preteen son’s soccer team or is it the stubble they want to feel?
Oh yes about that coaching job which pays nothing. Out of nowhere appears Dennis Quaid who hands George a thick envelope of cash, which, by actions later on, we have to assume are all 100 dollar bills, to use ‘for team uniforms and equipment’ which the team already has. He wants to use George’s past fame to make some deals. He lends the coach a red Ferrari, invites him to a meet and greet some people and then we see him calling George to go to his house and get $10,000 he needs to put up for bail to get out of jail. By the way Quaid is married to Thurman and is very jealous so it is no spoiler that she will want to jump George’s bones. After the jail scene Quaid disappears for most of the picture to come back for a ridiculous fight scene.
Trying to be a wacky comedy, a romantic comedy and then trying to segue into a family drama the screenwriter, Robbie Fox, fails in all three and director, Gabriele Muccino, seems to be floundering all over the place. The only actor who shines is Noah Lomax as the son while the rest are adequate considering they have nothing to act with.
By the way would ESPN, or any other sports network, hire someone to be a sportscaster who needs a shave or a trimmed beard and/or a haircut? Just asking.