Playing For Keeps

Released on December 7, 2012 0 comments

Slim offerings this week, including a horde of half-written Indys and a Rom Com. We suppose we’re stuck with the latter.

Don’t know why Gerard Butler keeps showing up in flicks like “Playing For Keeps,” except that’s the way the black-suited oafs must see him. He’s more suited to a rough-edged gangster or even the surfing Guru he played a few months ago in “Chasing Mavericks,” which bombed despite our spirited push.

We admit there is some charm to the trailer. Butler is a former pro soccer player who moves to the town where his ex-wife and young son live. He falls into coaching the kid’s team while re-falling for his ex, who just happens to be marrying someone else. Nothing new here, but with a Romantic Comedy that’s ok, because the genre lives and dies on chemistry and pace. Plus, Butler has a strong supporting cast.

Jessica Biel is in as the ex, and here’s hoping she’s over herself. At one point a few years back, she complained she wasn’t getting the right offers because she was too pretty. She is a scorcher, no question, but in an industry that turns out beautiful women like Sees Candy, she’s one of many. In fact, one of those other such babes, Catherine Zeta Jones, plays Biel’s rival for Butler’s attention. Jones took an extended powder after she married the much older Michael Douglas several years ago. She was never that talented, but was so uniquely alluring and had such a great voice, it was easy to overlook her thespian deficiencies. She still looks spectacular.

On the boys side, Dennis Quaid hovers as a parent of one of the soccer kids. Quaid can be a depressive drag if he’s not comfortable. (“Wyatt Earp,” and “Flesh And Bone” come to mind.) But with the right material, he can also be convincing, and he’s playing a family man much like the one he owned in the subtle and underrated “In Good Company.” Though his character in “Keeps,” looks to be more gregarious and foolhardy, it should be well within the wheelhouse.

Like Miz Jones, Uma Thurmond has also been off the radar, but returns here as Quaid’s wife, we think. If those names aren’t enough, there’s plenty of other eye candy floating around as soccer moms. The producers at least got that right.

There is one huge potential problem, and it lives behind the camera. Director Gabriele Muccino turned out a pair of the most forgettable Will Smith projects ever, and that is no easy task. “The Pursuit Of Happiness,” and “Seven Pounds,” were bad ideas poorly executed. Of course they were vanity projects for Smith, intended to harness Oscar talk, but they were also maudlin and boring. In light of those, we wonder if Muccino can summon a light touch and breezy pacing.

Fortunately, we’re not the target audience. Still, with all those pretty girls running around, it might just be worth a look.

On cable.