Playing for Keeps: What Do You Really Want? (2012)

Posted: July 5, 2013 in Comedy, Romance, Sport
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Playing-for-keeps-posterAfter his remarkable international career was cut short due to injury, George decides to move to Virginia to be closer to his son, Lewis. Without a job and without many options, he is just scraping by until a public display of skill at his son’s soccer practice causes the parents to ask him to take over as the coach. Though he begrudgingly agrees, he quickly starts to reestablish a relationship with his son while catching the attention of a number of the mothers of the other players and one really high-energy dad. As the friendships begin to evolve into interesting experiences, he realizes that his relationship with Lewis will continue to be underdeveloped unless he can make some serious changes in his life. The more he spends time with his son, the harder it is to resist his feelings for his ex-wife and reconcile the possibility of moving to Connecticut to take a job with ESPN.

Starring: Gerard Butler (George), Jessica Biel (Stacey), Noah Lomax (Lewis), Dennis Quaid (Carl), Uma Thurman (Patti), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Denise), James Tupper (Matt), Judy Greer (Barb), Abella Wyss (Ally), Iqbal Theba (Param), Sean O’Bryan (Assistant Coach Jacob)

Though the film had elements of a higher energy sports film, the cast kept the actual energy fairly low-key. Butler attempted to take a more dramatic approach but lacked a bit of the allure of a man struggling to find his way. Biel seemed a bit too passive during the film, but that may have also been how she appeared in contrast to the wilder, imbalanced performances of Quaid, Thurman, Zeta-Jones and Greer.

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Gabriele Muccino’s film is one that focused on the choices that people make for the sake of their families. When George’s career was taking off, he abandoned his wife and son to pursue international success. When all of that went away, he was left to pick up the pieces and ended up in shambles. He had all the recognition but none of the earnings. The chance to coach his son’s team was a double-edged sword. He was confronted by desperate parents wanting to get a chance to get to know the handsome bachelor more but the extra exposure to his ex-wife caused him to long to return to their once happy relationship. Lewis also started to get confused by the presence but continued feelings of disappointment from his father. While the ESPN deal and the women throwing themselves at him was attractive, he realized that he was looking for something else.

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While this film has moments of heart and an occasional laugh, it really struggles from a lack of chemistry and lackluster overall performances. Some of the characters, particularly Dennis Quaid’s, is just a bit too eccentric and only added to the story with his last scene. Theba only added a few moments of awkwardness. The story seemed to not know if it wanted to focus on the family relationship of George, Stacey and Lewis or just on George’s struggles with his conscience.

This is an easily forgettable film, but was not without its couple moments of entertainment.

Dan’s Rating: 2.0/5

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