Movie Review: “Playing for Keeps” – Hook, Line, and Sinker

Written by Tommy December 19, 2012

Okay, I know. It’s a generic romantic comedy for old ladies. Nobody’s expecting the world here. That’s why, in the interest of not being boring, I’m gonna try and look at this through the lens of the target audience, to see if this is, if not a good stand alone film, at least good if you are a fan of the genre. So, with that out of the way, does “Playing for Keeps” SINK or SWIM? Is it a big fish or a little guppy? Did Gerard Butler reel in an old boot or the catch of the day? Let’s DIVE into my review to find out!

So the basic plot is like this: Gerard Butler was a soccer superstar but now he’s poor and divorced so he coaches his child’s soccer team to reconnect with him. In the process he has sex with tons of soccer moms. I don’t know how they managed to take a great premise like “Gerard Buter sleeps with tons of MILFs” and make it so boring, but they did it.

At least Butler takes his shirt off a lot

My main problem with the film is this: “Playing for Keeps” is not a real movie. Just listen to the title: “Playing for Keeps”. Say it out loud. It sounds like a fake parody movie from an SNL sketch. It’s the cinematic equivalent of Bugs Bunny dressing up a pile of dynamite as an unbelievably sexy female rabbit.  It’s a fake pile of junk mushed together around Gerard Butler’s hot bod so they can steal people’s money. I say this because the movie clearly knows what this kind of romantic comedy is supposed to have, but either doesn’t know or care enough to use them with any degree of effectiveness. It introduces plot elements, then they are either entirely forgotten or just not used at all. They bring in this skeevy rich guy who could potentially serve as an antagonist, but he does nothing at all until the end of the film.  When he does do something Gerard Butler feels bad for a little bit but then it all gets forgotten.

The movie “KEEPS” uh… SUCKING

They know that in romantic comedies the guy has gotta come close to getting the girl, but then roadblocks and misunderstandings get in the way! And they have those! But they all get resolved like, five seconds after they occur. There is no looming threat, or problem. There’s another woman who wants Gerard Butler’s hot bod, but he just tells her to leave and she goes “oh okay” and leaves the movie forever. There’s an annoying landlord who hounds Butler for his rent, then Butler just gives him money and he goes “oh okay” and leaves forever.

“Total Sploosh”

What are these things you call “feelings”?

The only performance worth talking about is Jessica Biel’s, who plays Gerard Butler’s ex-wife. Being an empty shell of a man, I’m not too good at judging emotional authenticity, but I thought she handled herself pretty well out there. I actually was more impressed with her character to be honest. Usually in these kinds of “divorce” movies, the wife is either a cold heartless antagonist or a huge pushover, but Biel’s character is a layered one, who can get fairly emotional at times, but doesn’t let people push her around either. It’s also nice to see the hilarious Judy Greer in here, though she is totally wasted on this movie and isn’t allowed to be nearly as insane as she should be. Writing her as Cheryl from “Archer” would have bumped up my score by like four points, but alas.

So is “Playing for Keeps” a good movie? Lord no. Is it good if you’re just a fan of the genre? Nope. It has all the elements you’d expect to see, but they are all so poorly utilized that it’s hard to get any entertainment out of it. Butler has so little to overcome in the film that you don’t really care whether he gets his family back or not. He does take his shirt off a bunch though, and I understand that’s a crucial element. Either way, just watch “Love Actually” again. I remember that being pretty good. Or just watch “Moneyball” since this is literally the exact same plot except lamer in every possible facet. Seriously compare and contrast this biz, it’s ridiculous. Throw this one back.

My Rating: 4/10

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