While it seemed to have some potential as a watchable romantic comedy, ‘Playing for Keeps’ is made intolerable by an absurd story, false moments of tension and silly performances.
I don’t expect much from rom-coms. When one actually turns out to be good, it’s a very pleasant and warmly welcomed surprise. If one turns out horrible, then it’s no sweat off my back. The ‘Playing for Keeps’ TV spots made it look slightly better than most – but boy, was I wrong for assuming that.
There are only two things that we know about Butler’s character’s back story: 1) He was once a world famous soccer player who’s portrayed as being the “David Beckham” before David Beckham, and 2) He was once married to Jessica Biel’s character. That’s it. We get hints as to why they divorced, but nothing solid or spelled-out.
Now a washed-up and jobless has-been, he moves to the same American town as his ex so that he can spend more time with their son. Of course, he’s quickly coaxed into becoming the coach for his son’s soccer team. The majority of what ensues consists of ridiculous characters putting him in ridiculous situations, most of them played by almost non-existent actors. Have you ever seen one of those VH1 ‘Where Are They Now?’ type shows? ‘Playing for Keeps’ is like one of those episodes. Where are Dennis Quaid, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Uma Thurman and Judy Greer now? They’re all in this turd playing horrible characters. Each of them chomps scenery. Dear Judy Greer does her best with this giant mess, but she can’t save her role from stupidity.
‘Playing for Keeps’ doesn’t make for a good date night movie. It’s tonally inconsistent, directionless and chock full of contradicting morals. Ladies, please don’t ask your guys to see this with you. It’s a mess.