Playing for Keeps is the kind of movie that broadcasts its message and even its ending from the very trailer. There are plenty of movies where the end is apparent — Lincoln for instance. The pleasure is getting there. But in Playing for Keeps there is little pleasure found in connecting the dots. Even though it only runs 106 minutes it feels much much longer.
Gerard Butler plays George a former soccer player whose career is in the toilet moves to Virginia to be nearer to his son and ex-wife Stacie (Jessica Biel). There he reluctantly takes on the responsibility of coaching his son's soccer team. It would be impossible not to know that our dashing but irresponsible absentee dad will reconnect with his sensible ex before she marries her square fiancee. In the interim George sleeps with all the horny divorced ladies who swoon over his talent for working with kids. There are no real consequences; anything that could possibly go wrong doesn't.
There are so many guns waiting to go off that Chekhov would pull his own beard out. Playing for Keeps is a souped up Lifetime movie except there's no over-the-top drama just one or two shots of Gerard Butler shirtless and sex that's merely implied and alluded to. At one point I wondered if (okay hoped that maybe) a character would perhaps have a car accident and die because they were upset and driving in the rain. No nothing that exciting and silly could happen. Playing for Keeps is so by-the-numbers that it's almost offensive.
What does work in the movie's favor is the touch — just a touch — of chemistry between its leads. Even though there are 15 years between them in real life they've attempted to meet halfway by putting highlights in Butler's hair and dying Biel's dark brown and dressing her in casual suburban mom clothes. Still there's a little something between them that makes their sappy scenes together a little touching. That grin works on her after all these years for a reason.
The rest of the ensemble — Judy Greer Catherine Zeta-Jones Uma Thurman and Dennis Quaid — are wildly uneven though not necessarily miscast. A more fleshed-out script would have allowed the characters some dimension and given the movie at least a little more bite despite the rote premise. Greer as a naturally weird sense of humor but her character is left flailing as a newly divorced soccer mom who gets her groove back with George. Zeta-Jones is a sexy possibly dangerous soccer mom who helps George snag a professional opportunity but her character is ultimately harmless. Quaid is supposed to be some sort of jealous sleazy drunk rich guy who would be the type to pull a gun on someone but doesn't and Thurman as his wife comes on like a dippy rich housewife instead of channeling the biting bad ass-itude we know she's capable of. As a character George is confusing; it's as if he doesn't even want to sleep with all of the soccer moms but they're just throwing themselves at him and he's hapless to stop them. It's gross and doesn't even fulfill the movie's underlying promise which is to give its target audience a good dose of Harlequin-style romance with Gerard Butler. Guess those soccer shorts will just have to do.
The actress had signed up to play feminist icon Gloria Steinem in the film opposite Amanda Seyfried in the title role, but she exited the project shortly after her hospitalisation last week (24Jan12).
After her emergency admission to hospital, Moore was taken to a medical facility to treat exhaustion and "improve her overall health".
The movie's producer, Heidi Jo Markel, has now revealed she was stunned to receive a phone call from Moore's representative explaining why the star had to drop out of the part.
She tells People.com, "It was a shock and concern for all of us. We got a call from (Moore's representative) on Tuesday morning and (the rep) said, 'There's been a personal crisis and we need to let you know that.' And we were clueless. We had no idea what it entailed. We just knew she was out, that there was probably a health concern, and to move on.
"It was mostly that we were worried about her health. Movies come and go, but someone's health is the most important. We just want her to be well."
However, Markel is pleased to have hired former Sex and the City star Sarah Jessica Parker as Moore's replacement, adding, "She's incredible. She has incredible moxie (courage) and strength of character and we were just so overjoyed that we could get her and she was interested in doing the part."
David Schwimmer will direct Clive Owen and Catherine Keener in Trust, the trades report.
The dark drama is about the damaging effects an online sexual predator has on a family. Millennium Films will produce and finance.
Schwimmer wrote the story for the drama with Andy Bellin on the script.
Owen and Keener will play the parents of a 14-year-old girl who discover she has been victimized by an adult who gained her trust posing as a teenager in a chat room. Liana Liberato will play the daughter.
Avi Lerner will produce with Heidi Jo Markel and Bob Greenhut. Executive producers are Danny Dimbort, Trevor Short, Boaz Davidson, Schwimmer and Tom Hodges.
This is Schwimmer's second feature as director following 2007's Run, Fatboy, Run.
Shooting begins Nov. 9 in Michigan.
Nu Image will distribute the film worldwide.
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