Playing For Keeps
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Cast: Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel, Dennis Quaid, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Uma Thurman, Judy Greer
Director: Gabriele Muccino
Indian Express rating: *1/2
Like director Muccino's Pursuit of Happyness, Playing for Keeps has a beat-up father with a broken marriage and a loving kid. However, that's where the similarity ends. For while it would purport to be about all that, it is busy building up Butler as a sexy ex-sports star with disturbingly few morality qualms who has all the soccer moms — played incongruously by some fine actors — lusting after him.
You expect any of those things, especially a loaned Ferrari that he lets his nine-year-old son drive, to come to some sort of denouement. However, the film blithely skirts past any uncomfortable clashes to chug to a predictably happy ending.
Butler plays the once-famous Scottish soccer player George Dryer. These days, with bills to pay and loans to pay off, he spends his days either watching recordings of old matches or rehearsing for a sportscaster job. Settled in Virginia to be near his son, who stays with his ex-wife, he is accompanying his son for his soccer games when he
realises the coach isn't interested in the job and takes over. The moms (played by Zeta-Jones, Thurman and Greer, among others) don't just love this sexy foreigner with the toned body, blonde streaked and tousled hair, they aggressively pursue him. While George haplessly succumbs to the charms of at least two, it's the meek and unremarked-upon surrender before a rich father that is rather discomforting. He not just takes Carl's (Quaid) money, promising to retain his son as goalie and lets his daughter sing before a match, but also accepts his offer of a Ferrari without a tinge of suspicion. He drives around the car for a bit before, as inexplicably, it disappears.