LAKE OCONEE — “Playing for Keeps” is so bad that even the Lifetime Channel (surely) would find it undeserving for broadcast. Clearly the demographic is divorced moms burning for love from a “hunkalicious” soccer player (George Dryer played by Gerard Butler). If that is what they wanted to please, they should have had the Scot whip off his bath towel and dance the fandango like a cheap middle-aged member of the Chippendales. Perhaps there would be some value for the ticket buyers, instead they must settle for empty-headed, sloppy, sanitized chick-porn.
I suppose I must gather, from the movie, women with children in suburban Virginia are sex-starved and more than willing to act the fool throwing themselves, salivating and panting, in the path of a brogue-speaking divorcee with a six-pack a-bulging.
Dryer is washed up; his soccer days are in the past. His hard-loving, hard-living days are gone too and all that is left for him is to reconnect with his former wife Stacie (Jessica Biel) and their son, Lewis. So he travels to Virginia and coaches his son’s team. Cue the women (Judy Greer, Uma Thurman, Catherine Zeta-Jones…and all the extras) to drool.
George was a hedonist in his youth, I suppose. Now he is broke and lonely and sad. Oh, boo hoo!
He made poor and irresponsible choices, but it helps he has a sexy accent and a burley chest and finally wants to become a man. And if he were not so good looking and spoke with an accent that didn’t have a whiff of Sean Connery, I suppose the ladies would simply shrug shoulders and ask George the direction to toilet seats?
Frankly, this man-child’s late trip to maturity ought not to be admired, so the writer created Carl (Dennis Quaid) to play a Rich Dad who is a philanderer and thinks he can buy people with cash and cars, which is usually true, especially in Hollywood where people can be bought for cash and cars to star in tripe like “Playing for Keeps.”
This film is very sloppy; goofs abound. Lewis, the son, changes ages and characters pop up and disappear (only to reappear, perhaps, in “extras” on DVD), and suddenly, without buildup, we learn that a game is FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP! Yeah, team!
“Playing for Keeps” is more smarm than schmaltz. The plot, in my humble opinion, is insulting to women—perhaps not as much as Real Housewives of New Jersey (or Atlanta or Miami or Orange County) but still, debasing enough that it is a pity a female victim can only walk out and not simply push the remote and have the trash taken out for them. I could be wrong, of course; perhaps soccer moms are randy-trampy but since I don’t look like Mr. Butler, I will never know.
I wonder who would see such a film except for a film reviewer who is obliged to and does not have to fork over (his) funds to be tormented. If you planned this to be a date movie, change your mind. I recommend a good meal and watch something where there are standards and respect for the audience, something on a pay channel, perhaps? Or wait for next week, the selection has to get better.
This is a movie that I started forgetting before the credits rolled. I barely remember it now and in a week or two, it will be totally, completely, and mercifully, forgotten.
“Playing for Keeps” does not deserve even one single bow tie, so I will grant it one loosened tie and a sleepy yawn.