DVD Review: Playing for Keeps

Gerard Butler continues the reign of the Brits in Hollywood in this new romantic comedy from Lionsgate.  Here he stars as a down-on-his-luck former football star, George Dryer.  You never really get his back story between being a soccer star and being the penniless loser of today, but there are hints at failed business ventures and lost dreams.  The end result is that he is living in a rented house to be near his young son, Lewis, looking for work, and accidentally ends up coaching his son's football team.

Cue the entrance of a deluge of 'soccer moms', including Catherine Zeta-Jones and Uma Thurman, who see ruggedly handsome George as the antidote to the boredom in their lives and set out to pursue him.  This has the potential to be highly ironic and amusing, but actually just succeeds in portraying women over 30 as desperate, hopeless disasters.  This is a shame, as the general feel of the film is quite good.  (I must admit I was also rather surprised to see such high profile actresses lowering themselves to this kind of role.  Are there really so few parts for women over a certain age?!)

Where the film does work is in the relationship between George and his son, not the most original father-son angst tale, but nice all the same.  And the use of football/soccer as a bonding opportunity between them was good.  Maybe a greater emphasis on the football and the team who go from losers to winners would have been better than the predatory soccer mom angle?

The will they-won't they story about George and his ex-wife Stacie (Jessica Biel) was pleasant enough too, and reasonably well acted.  but where the film excels is definitely in the father-son moments, and newcomer Noah Lomax who plays Lewis was excellent.  (Just look out for the continuity clanger where Lewis is said to be 10 in one part of the film, yet only 9 later on...)

Overall I enjoyed the film though and it was a nice, gentle glass of wine Saturday night story.  6/10 from me, but all the Gerard Butler fans will be very happy with this one!