Saturday, September 20, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Review: ‘Playing for Keeps’ one of year’s worst

By
From page B2 | December 07, 2012 |

This is supposed to be the time of year when high-quality movies come out, whether they’re potential Oscar contenders or crowd-pleasing family fare.

So the presence of flat, hacky, unfunny dreck like “Playing for Keeps” — the kind of film that ordinarily tries to fly under the radar in January or February but would be torture to sit through in any month — is a total mystery.

It is truly baffling that all the talented, acclaimed actors involved actually read this script and then agreed to devote their time to this movie, especially given its uncomfortably flagrant misogynistic streak. Judy Greer, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Uma Thurman couldn’t possibly need work this badly. And yet, here they are as soccer moms shamelessly throwing themselves at Gerard Butler and his tousled, manly mane.

The Scottish hunk, still struggling with comedy following “The Ugly Truth” and “The Bounty Hunter,” stars as George Dryer, a once-great soccer star who’s now divorced and in financial straits. At the film’s start, he has moved to suburban Virginia to reconnect with his ex-wife, Stacie (Jessica Biel), and their young son, Lewis (Noah Lomax). Naturally, a couple of things happen pretty quickly, accompanied by an intrusively jaunty score. First, George gets suckered into coaching his kid’s soccer team. Then, the mothers of all the other 9-year-olds start brazenly hitting on him, regardless of whether they’re married or single. They’re just so wildly hormonal, they can’t control themselves.

Director Gabriele Muccino, who’s had mixed results with Will Smith in “The Pursuit of Happyness” and “Seven Pounds,” veers awkwardly between wacky hijinks and facile sentimentality, and Robbie Fox’s script doesn’t feature a single character who resembles an actual human being. George is weirdly indifferent in the face of all this attention, the low point of which finds Thurman as a married socialite sneaking into his bed in a black bra and panties to seduce him in the middle of the night.

Then there’s Greer, usually a standout comedian who can do nothing with her flimsy role as a needy, stalky divorcee. Zeta-Jones at least has the benefit of looking stylish and sultry as the former TV personality who uses her connections to woo him. But George doesn’t seem interested in any of these people, so why should we be?

(Ah yes, there’s a whole subplot in which George aspires to be a sports anchor and magically gets a job offer as a soccer analyst on ESPN, despite having zero on-air experience, after just one audition. Because there’s a bounty of TV gigs out there just ripe for the picking. Do you think he’ll leave this family, just as he’s started to bond with them again, and move to Bristol, Conn., to take it???)

The men don’t fare much better. Dennis Quaid is singularly manic and skeevy as Thurman’s husband, a flashy high roller with a wicked jealous streak. And Stacie’s personality-free fiance (James Tupper) apparently has no job, friends or interests, but rather hangs around the house all day waiting to answer the front door disapprovingly when George arrives to pick up his son.

The one woman with an actual backbone and sense of values in this movie is Biel’s character. Unfortunately, she’s also rendered as bland, conservative and, oddly, a little frumpy. It’s difficult to tell what sort of magic these two forged together years ago and flat-out impossible to care whether they’ll reconcile, although — spoiler! — that’s just one of the many elements of the lazy, formulaic game plan in play here.

“Playing for Keeps,” a FilmDistrict release, is rated PG-13 for some sexual situations, language and a brief intense image. Running time: 105 minutes. Zero stars out of four.

Christy Lemire

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • order phen375April 29, 2013 - 8:47 pm

    Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much approximately this, such as you wrote the book in it or something. I feel that you could do with some percent to power the message home a little bit, but other than that, this is excellent blog. A great read. I will certainly be back.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Solano jobless rate drops, jobs rise

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1

 
Parsons files FPPC complaint against Bertani

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1

 
Memorial focuses on hope, healing from addiction

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Vacaville High graduate shines at tech event

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A2

 
Vallejo man faces deportation after guilty pleas

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A3

New law aimed at urban water district reports

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
Travis celebrates KC-10′s 20 years at base

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Highway 37 detours in place

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
Maintenance begins on Rio Vista Bridge Sunday

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
Mother gives late daughter a voice by helping others

By Susan Winlow | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
Fairfield police log: Sept. 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

Suisun City police log: Sept. 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
.

US / World

Record-setting retardant used on California fire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
UC campus chancellors granted hefty pay raises

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Brown vetoes diaper changing-station bills

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Oakland mother charged in cocaine death of son, 2

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

California man accused of killing fellow gym-goer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
California school gender equity ruling upheld

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

State to ban smoking at home day cares

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Driver of stolen van that hit dog gets prison time

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

License plate scanner networks capture movements

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Feds approve California’s immigrant license words

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Fence-jumper makes it into the White House

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Florida town knew shooter had troubled past

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Daughter calls Utah doctor a monster at sentencing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
3 guilty in Ga. salmonella-tainted peanut trial

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Fierce fighting in Yemeni capital kills 120

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Sierra Leone begins 3-day Ebola lockdown

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Ambush suspect could be aided by dense woods

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
France joins US against Islamic State over Iraq

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

After vote to stay in UK, Scots must heal divide

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
.

Opinion

Lots of services available for Solano veterans

By Ted Puntillo | From Page: A8

 
Cheers, jeers for the week of Sept. 14-20, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

Editorial cartoons for Sept. 20, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Fairfield Ford boosts animal adoption efforts

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

.

Living

Today in History: Sept. 20, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Sept. 20, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Sept. 20, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A7

 
Make sure you get educated during Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A7

Signs indicate California recovery will last

By Thomas Elias | From Page: A8

 
.

Entertainment

 
Fallon to pay up, broadcast show in Chicago

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B9

 
.

Sports

Big plays in second half lift Vanden past Center

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1

 
Legs power Mustangs in win over Falcons

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Indians score late but still fall to Panthers

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1

 
A’s Lester holds Phillies to 5 hits in 7 innings in 3-1 victory

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Stewart slogs through tough day at New Hampshire

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Rio Vista gets easy football win over Delta

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

Keselowski wins pole at New Hampshire

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Gordon has suspension reduced to 10 games

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

After NFL, baseball addresses domestic violence

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Goodell: ‘Same mistakes can never be repeated’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Kershaw gets 20th win as Dodgers pound Cubs 14-5

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Raiders could be down 2 starters on defense

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Sharks open with new vibe after playoff collapse

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
49ers’ Davis, McDonald questionable for Sunday

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
This date in sports history for Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

.

Business

The Kuro taste: Peppery tang and hint of squid ink

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Pabst Brewing to be sold to Russian company

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

China fines GlaxoSmithKline $492M for bribery

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Procter & Gamble cancels on-field NFL promotion

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

California adopts olive-oil labeling standards

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4, 1 Comment

 
Yahoo rakes in another jackpot from Alibaba’s IPO

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Alibaba stock soars in jubilant trading debut

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
.

Obituaries

Allie M. Zell-Jones

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
George Junior Rhode

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Charles Randolph Orr

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Corazon Libunao Thompson

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
.

Home Seller 09/20/14

Average US 30-year mortgage rate at 4.23 percent

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR2

New Standard Pacific models in Vacaville

By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR3

Real estate transactions for Sept. 20, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR3