Avoid paying for Playing for Keeps


Dale Robinette

George Dryer (Gerard Butler) tries to reconnect with his son and ex-wife (Jessica Beil) by coaching his son’s soccer team. Playing For Keeps features a great cast reading lines from a script that is both tonally inconsistent and painfully unfunny.

Victor Dos Santos, Assistant A&E Editor

Playing For Keeps is the latest and laziest effort from Italian director Gabriele Muccino, previously known for his work on Will Smith films The Pursuit of Happyness and Seven Pounds.

A frustratingly bad new romantic-comedy film of questionable family appeal, the film stars Gerard Butler as a retired soccer player who had a wife and kid and whom he, at some point, inexplicably lost.  His loss is not important—all that really matters is Butler’s character decides he’d like to rekindle his relationship with his son by coaching his soccer team.  The catch? Every soccer mom wants to date Butler’s character.

The movie is riddled with issues, and it especially struggles to find a consistent tone.   This movie has no idea what kind of movie it actually is.

At times, it tries very hard to be a touching story about a father trying to connect with his son, but these heavy emotions are interrupted by  flashes of Butler’s character, George Dryer, dating soccer moms.

Whoever wrote this film didn’t feel it was appropriate to give any of these characters some sort of backstory.  We, as an audience, are constantly being told that Butler’s character screwed up at one point and how that screw-up resulted in his divorce.

Yet for some strange reason, what that screw-up was is never actually revealed and only exists to make the audience feel sympathy for Butler and strangely not the ex-wife, played by Jessica Beil.

Scene after scene, you see Beil complain to Butler’s face about how he’s either five minutes late or “not being there”.  Those scenes don’t progress the plot in any way; all they do is make us think that whoever wrote Playing For Keeps was some misogynist who’s had one too many women complain to him about his tardiness.

We cannot forget the subplot involving the soccer moms who all want to date Gerard Butler.  There’s no underlying reason for them to want to date him other than to have a nice story to tell their friends.

The problem isn’t so much that those scenes convey a misogynistic attitude, it’s that, again, they never amount to anything. Those scenes aren’t funny, they’re not adding any substance to the film itself or its characters—they’re just there.

Playing for Keeps is two hours of nothing but vapidity and poorly developed characters.  It is most likely the worst movie to come out this year and may end up being the last we see of Gerard Butler.