A peaceful Southern town. An epic love story. Danger, suspense, and intrigue? Safe Haven, the movie adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ latest novel, is a new twist on the author’s classic love stories. But not to worry — there's still plenty of canoeing, lighthouses, and romance in the rain.
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Hollywood.com sat down with Duhamel to discuss his transformation into a Nicholas Sparks leading man (would you believe him if he told you that Ryan Gosling, Channing Tatum and Richard Gere hazed him?), building his on-screen relationship with Hough, and portraying a parent on screen.
“It was important for me to get to know these kids,” explains Duhamel, who made sure to get some beach-themed hang-out time with Kirkland before filming started. “And to make them feel comfortable around me, and to be able to have fun and just be who these kids already were — on camera.”
Safe Haven follows Katie (Julianne Hough), on the run from an abusive relationship when she crosses paths with Alex (Josh Duhamel), a widower with two adorable young children (Mimi Kirkland and Noah Lomax). They fall in love, but trouble soon catches up to them when Kevin (David Lyons), a mysterious man chasing Katie, arrives in town. Colbie Smulders also stars as Jo, Katie’s new next door neighbor and friend.
Safe Haven hits theaters on Valentine’s Day. Check out Hollywood.com's full interview with Josh Duhamel below:
Follow Jessica on Twitter @CourtemancheJ
[PHOTO CREDIT: Relativity Media]
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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 kid who plays my son... he was the coolest kid I feel like I've ever hung out with... If he was just a spoiled brat, annoying little kid, it would have been a bummer... Between takes, we would sit in the car... and we would jam out to rock 'n' roll stations... He was just having a good time." Newlywed Jessica Biel enjoyed playing mum to child star Noah Lomax in Playing For Keeps.
In Playing for Keeps, Gerard Butler's former soccer superstar character George actually suffers from being too good looking. It's a plight most of us may have difficulty understanding, but George's charm and handsome exterior put him in the crosshairs of admirers, and he's not the type to say no. His penchant for wooing women becomes an issue for the down-on-his luck athlete — his career took a dive, his marriage to Stacie (Jessica Biel) dissolved and his relationship with son Lewis (Noah Lomax) is on equally thin ice.
Hoping to reclaim the important things in this life and get back on his feet, George takes a job as Lewis' intramural soccer coach. As he quickly realizes, the soccer moms who frequent their games will be his biggest test of commitment.
Starring Butler, Biel, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Uma Thurman, and directed by The Pursuit of Happyness' Gabriele Muccino, Playing for Keeps should be the right dose of sweet and serious for the holidays, when it arrives in theaters Dec. 7. Take a peek at four new pics from the film premiering exclusively on Hollywood.com:
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
[Photo Credit: Open Road Films (4)]
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