Review: Playing for Keeps


Playing for Keeps

  • Starring:  Gerard Butler (Bounty Hunter), Jessica Biel (Stealth), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Traffic) and more.
  • Directed by: Gabriele Muccino
  • Synopsis: “Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel, Uma Thurman, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Dennis Quaid star in “Playing For Keeps,” a romantic comedy about a charming, down-on-his luck former soccer star (Butler) who returns home to put his life back together.  Looking for a way to rebuild his relationship with his son, he gets roped into coaching the boy’s soccer team.  But his attempts to finally become an “adult” are met with hilarious challenges from the attractive “soccer moms” who pursue him at every turn.  “Playing For Keeps” is directed by Gabriele Muccino, the director of “The Pursuit of Happyness.” (-Collider)
  • Rated: Rated PG-13 for sexual situations and language.
  • Trailer:
  • Review:

“Playing for Keeps” stars Gerard Butler as a “once upon a time” soccer star whose life and career end up in a place he never expected. In the middle of juggling failing finances, fatherhood and family, George Dryer (Butler) finds hope in life when new career opportunities spark further motivation in both himself and the soccer moms of his son’s team (which he coaches).keeps1

This film follows the “300” star as George, a man who, still growing up, must choose between career and family, perks and parenthood, and luxury and love. Gabriel Muccino, who directed “The Pursuit of Happyness,” tells a nice relatable tale but fails to capture the power of his previous drama in this “dramedy” (drama/comedy). “Playing for Keeps” boasts an impressive cast that plays each role actually quite well. From Gerard Butler as the believable womanizing juvenile father and divorcee, to Jessica Biel as their sons mother who is engaged to wed another, to Dennis Quaid, Uma Thurman, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Judy Greer who all play supporting roles that smartly jab at the stereotypical characters expected and recognized in the “youth soccer league community,” the cast is the strength of the film.Playing-for-Keeps

The story, on the other hand, remains highly predictable and by the numbers. With an expected and rather altruistic ending, the film does little to build up to a climax and travels at a pace similar to that of other such forgettable films (and that of life, I might add). Forgettable though, because it is barely defined. With not enough romance or comedy to be considered a romantic comedy, not enough drama to be such and too much focus on other sub-plots (enter the “American Pie”-ish antics of George’s female pursuers), “Playing for Keeps” loses its focus and, thus, loses its overall appeal. Butler’s latest leaves more to be desired but is not the worst of his “rom-com” adventures. (I reserve that spot for “The Bounty Hunter.”) “Playing for Keeps”: a fun, fine, forgettable family film, but ultimately “Playing for Keeps” loses and doesn’t meet up to it’s potential.

Sorry, Leonidas. Sparta this isn't.
Sorry, Leonidas. Sparta this isn’t.

Score:  2.5 out of 5 stars for Playing for Keeps


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Thanks for reading! Happy Watching!

T, The Focused Filmographer

up next: “Trailer Time Thursday!”


  1. “Sorry, Leonidas. Sparta this isn’t.”

    Ha! Y’know, this didn’t have a look of something worth while byway of the trailer, especially during this time of the movie calendar. With all the heavy hitters bringing out their contenders (you and everyone else in the world knows what lands this week) and they release a rom-com like this? As well, Butler (or his agent) have a penchant for stuff like this recently. He’s getting wasted, me thinks… Thanks, T.


  2. I was hoping this one would turn out better because I like Gerard Butler well enough and I was hoping Judy Greer, one of my favorite actresses, would have a hit. Based on what i’ve seen though, it looks like a rental…or maybe a “wait until Encore or Starz shows it”


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