Saturday, April 19, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

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

By
From page B2 | December 07, 2012 | 1 Comment

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

Transplant recipients talk about their best gifts

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

 
Solano unemployment inches downward

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1

 
Spering, Bertani spar over fighting crime

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3, 5 Comments | Gallery

 
Fairfield council candidates weigh in on crime

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Police release name of woman found dead in Fairfield canal

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Five homes featured on Symphony Home Tour

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

Congregation invites public to Easter music, message

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
Jury acquits substitute teacher in child abuse case

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A4

Weather for April 19, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B13

 
.

US / World

California farmers to get more water

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Teen sentenced in Oakland toddler’s killing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

More Latino than white students admitted to UC

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
3 alleged gang members convicted of murder

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
From Clinton to Obama, many parallels

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Study: Half of jailed NYC youths have brain injury

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
PG&E to be arraigned in fatal pipeline blast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Mom and son who died in San Francisco fire ID’d

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Easter on 4/20, pot holy day; pastors reach out

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

Colorado deaths stoke worries about pot edibles

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

 
NASA’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down as planned

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

Atheist national conference aims at Mormon church

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

 
Some countries get Obama, but want his wife, too

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Man who avoided prison is overwhelmed by support

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Teen suspended for asking Miss America to prom

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

White House updating online privacy policy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
SpaceX making Easter delivery of station supplies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Sudden movement raises alarm in Wyoming slide area

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
In Egypt, a corruption watchdog hit by backlash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

Military scales down, modifies Guam buildup plan

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Captain of sunken SKorean ferry arrested

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

Avalanche sweeps down Everest, killing at least 12

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
57-nation OSCE plays key Ukraine monitoring role

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Ukraine crisis: The turning points

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Diplomacy doesn’t move insurgents in Ukraine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Magnitude-7.2 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
.

Opinion

Here we go again in Sacramento

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11

 
.

Living

.

Entertainment

Prince reaches agreement with music label

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

 
‘The Boondocks’ back for final ‘offensive’ season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

A nutty finale for ‘Scandal,’ TV’s craziest show

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

 
Stratocaster still a favorite at 60

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

.

Sports

Big innings lift Mustangs over Indians

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Hertl has impressive playoff debut for Sharks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Warriors and Clippers take dislike to playoffs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Ross, Padres beat Cain and Giants 2-1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

A’s come out swinging to beat Astros 11-3

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Warriors to start O’Neal for Bogut vs. Clippers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Nadal ousted by Ferrer in Monte Carlo quarters

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
A’s lefty reliever Doolittle gets 5-year deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

’40-and-up club’: Ageless Hopkins after more belts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Jimenez shoots 65 to lead Greater Gwinnett field

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Solano scores in ninth for 2-1 BVC baseball win over Yuba

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
Choi leads rain-delayed RBC Heritage

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

NBA’s Silver wants age limit change, no rush on others

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
NBA playoffs looking more wide-open than expected

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Source: Grizzlies’ G Calathes suspended for 20 games

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Avalanche sweeps down Everest, killing at least 12

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Mets trade 1B Ike Davis to Pirates

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
TNT’s Sager to miss NBA playoffs due to leukemia

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

.

Business

Judge says American can’t end retiree benefits yet

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
Mazda recalls 109,000 older SUVs for rust problem

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

5 features an Amazon phone might offer

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
.

Obituaries

Sealwyn Shirley Brucefield Shepherd Malkiewicz

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
.

Home Seller 04/19/14

Summerwood features 8 new homes in Suisun

By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR2

Real estate transactions for April 19, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR3

Average US 30-year mortgage rate falls to 4.27 percent

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR3