Up until the other day, I was thinking of how I managed to avoid seeing any bad movies this year. Sure, there were some that I liked more than others, but nothing was too terrible to me.
And then, I saw Playing for Keeps.
Gerard Butler’s latest romantic comedy (or drama? I don’t even know.) follows a retired soccer star, George, who moves to Virginia to be close to his ex-wife (Jessica Biel) and son. His former soccer star status doesn’t seem to be helping George much in America as he’s trying to find a job. He inadvertently gets tied up into coaching his son’s soccer team, which in turn causes a bunch of soccer moms (Catherine Zeta-Jones, Uma Thurman and Judy Greer) to go after him. Can he prove to his ex-wife and son that he can be a good and responsible family man?
Playing for Keeps is packed with rom-com clichés, terrible dialogue and middling subplots that end up going nowhere. It surprises me how all of these actors agreed to join a project with such a contrived script. The three soccer moms are underwritten and terribly cliché; we have the clingy and recently divorced mother (Greer), the seductress (Zeta-Jones) and the frustrated and vengeful wife (Thurman). And they’re all there solely to adulate George’s ego. (He can cause all a whole town of suburban moms to go sex-crazy!) This was also supposed to be the comedic element of the film, but how can I laugh at something misogynistic and badly written? Greer, Zeta-Jones and Thurman are all actresses that deserve better roles than these.
Then, we have Biel, who actually has the best material of the movie (if not by much), and shows some real emotion as George’s ex-wife. It’s a real contrast to George, who even when he’s bonding with his son, hardly emotes. This is a family drama; where’s the feeling, George? Additionally, with such bad dialogue that is unconvincingly delivered, we finally get some comedy, if unintentional. The dialogue goes beyond corny into something completely disbelieving, causing me to chuckle a few times. However, don’t get me wrong; this movie is not “so bad, it’s good.” In addition to Butler, we also have Dennis Quaid to thank for that. And no, I don’t even want to get into how ridiculous and maniacal Quaid was.
Playing for Keeps is a complete mess of movie. It fails at delivering any sort of genuine emotion or decent story-telling. While on the surface, it has an appealing cast, they don’t elevate the material into something remotely watch-worthy.
Rating: 1/10 stars
Playing for Keeps hits theaters, Friday, December 7th.