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12/10/2012 8:03:00 AM
MOVIE REVIEW: Playing for Keeps definitely not a keeper
Dale Robinette/Film DistrictJessica Biel (from left), Noah Lomax and Gerard Butler have a lot of issues to overcome in Playing for Keeps.
Dale Robinette/Film District

Jessica Biel (from left), Noah Lomax and Gerard Butler have a lot of issues to overcome in Playing for Keeps.

Playing for Keeps has a cast of hugely successful players who make you think this a must-see movie. It opened this week, at year's end when we expect high quality films, to compete for the Oscars. Playing for Keeps turns these two notions upside down.

The actors plod through the film, and the film itself is a boring, stiff, overly familiar story that seems to have been written by and for a high school drama club!

Gerard Butler is George, a one-time international soccer star. His career is in the past and he has been through several losing business ventures. He's broke! He aspires to be a television sportscaster and has made some videos, but has not made a connection with anybody to view them.

George moves back to his former hometown in Virginia to try to reconnect with his ex-wife, Stacie (Jessica Biel), and his heretofore neglected 9-year-old son, Lewis. There is hope for him with Lewis (Noah Lomax), but Stacie is about to be remarried to a very decent fellow who does not have the womanizing drive that cost George his marriage.

George gets drafted, not unwillingly, as the coach of Lewis's soccer team. Several of the kids on the team are from broken homes or shaky marriages so there are soccer moms on the make at all the games. They are all beautiful and sexy and they are all drawn to George.

Judy Greer is Barb, recently divorced. Catherine Zeta-Jones is Denise, also divorced. Denise was a sportscaster at one time and she seduces George with a promise to help him get an audition with ESPN. It's his goal to do that and the price he'll have to pay for her help - well, it is the stunning Ms. Jones.

One married couple involved in this melodrama is Carl (Dennis Quaid) and Patti (Uma Thurman). Carl is a very rich, aggressive, obnoxious businessman who is very jealous of his wife, but who has no reservations about engaging in his own sexual adventures. Patti makes every effort to make it with George. But Carl has done several big favors for George, and George knows how vindictive Carl can be, so he resists Patti.

George does very well as the soccer coach and he does become close to Lewis. There are some points in time where George is busy elsewhere and Lewis is very disappointed, but that blows over.

Just about every scene in Playing for Keeps is entirely predictable with trite dialogue. It is billed as a romantic-comedy, but there isn't much romance or comedy in Playing for Keeps.

The ending has a sweet twist to it so Playing for Keeps may be considered a 'feel good' movie. The cinematography is largely accomplished, unnecessarily, with a hand-held camera, making the scenes always seem to be a little shaky. Perhaps that was done to give the illusion of motion to an otherwise stale product.

Playing for Keeps is at Harkins Sedona 6 Theater.

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