Playing For Keeps

Release date: December 7, 2012

This holiday season, what do you really want? The Lego Star Wars Planets: Series 3. I’m not joking.

Just by looking at the theatrical poster of Playing For Keeps I had a feeling I was about to see the standard 21st century romantic comedy. Thankfully I was kind of wrong.

This flick is directed by Gabriele Muccino, who has brought us a slur of Italian flicks and L’Ultimo Bacio, which is the original The Last Kiss which was remade in America in 2006. Already, my prediction was beginning to change. Only a fool doesn’t change his mind every now and again.

Besides being a vehicle for real-life womanizer Gerard Butler, Playing For Keeps stars hollywood heavyweights Jessica “Playing Mommies Now” Biel, Dennis “Vegas Boy” Quaid, Uma Thurman, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Judy “Hot Damn” Greer. Joining this rag tag bunch is Noah Lomax who might be cozy with Greer as they’ve played together on the short lived TV show Mad Love.

Playing For Keeps follows Scottish Spartan George Dyer (Butler) as he navigates his life post-soccer stardom as he matures as a person while mending bridges with his ex-wife (Biel) and soccer playing son (Lomax.) He gets caught up as his son’s team’s coach and quickly catches the eye of single soccer-moms and douchey dads alike.

What was unique with Playing For Keeps is that it’s much less of a love story and more a pseudo coming of age story. Dryer must grow up and take responsibility in his life and prove to his son that he’s there for him. Thankfully, the interactions with his son felt much more realistic than those with Biel, making their on-screen time enjoyable. The ending of the film is given away moments past the opening montage, so if you paid any attention at all you had this film ending long before your girlfriend’s first bathroom break.

WHAT WORKED:

– The comedy. For a romantic-comedy, writer Robbie Fox hit the nail on the head of the latter. Well timed and paced this film may not have you slapping your knee like Forgetting Sarah Marshal, but it will keep your date from getting to an awkward place.

– Noah Lomax. This kid is a pretty solid thespian. Legit. It never felt like the director had to whisper some lines into his ear and turn the camera on quickly so he could just repeat them like a Yak Bak, or The Olson twins.

– The random moments with Dryer’s landlord Param played by Iqbal Theba. This guys also plays Abed’s dad on Community. Random and quick. Probably could have been cut entirely from the film and it wouldn’t have changed much motivation wise. But you would have lost a lot of laughs.

– Judy Greer. Hot. Redhead. Kinda bipolar crazy. Yeah…..

WHAT DIDN’T WORK:

– The script. It was bland and meh. Really nothing special. However with the caliber of talent spitting out the hallmark greeting card lines, it as good as it could be: acceptable.

THE LOWDOWN:

Far far from the stage come The Oscars, Playing For Keeps is a surprisingly solid flick. Beware the lactose intolerants, this flick has more cheese than a Montreal Poutine. Luckily, it’s balanced out well by some solid performances and great laughs. If you have a date coming up and want something perfect to keep the mood going, watch Playing For Keeps as it Passes Inspection.

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