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Playing for Keeps(2012)
Seeking to redeem himself and repair his relationship with his family, a washed-up pro soccer player coaches his son's team. But the hot, lonely soccer moms, who find him irresistible, threaten to derail his plan to reconnect with his estranged wife.
For more about Playing for Keeps and the Playing for Keeps Blu-ray release, see Playing for Keeps Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on March 4, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel, Uma Thurman, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Judy Greer, Dennis Quaid
Director: Gabriele Muccino
» See full cast & crew
Playing for Keeps Blu-ray Review
Playing for paychecks.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, March 4, 2013
Maybe it's the accent.
Poor George. He's thrown away his wealth, lost his wife and son, and can't even pay the rent. Now, thanks to his dashing good looks and "charming" personality, he must choose between living the life of a playboy, bedding all the desperate soccer moms around town, or set that lifestyle aside and rediscover his first love -- his family -- all the while all but guaranteed a good-paying gig with ESPN. What a choice. What a movie. What a bad movie. Playing for Keeps is the latest dud of a Romantic Comedy to star Gerard Butler, following on the heels of the even more terrible The Ugly Truth. Perhaps Butler should stick to Action movies, a genre in which he is quite good, or at least ask his agent to land him better RomCom scripts. Playing for Keeps isn't so bad that it's unbearable, but it's a terribly linear, no-thought picture wrought with bland developments and unconvincing emotions galore. The film lacks character nuance, instead beating its audience over the head with repetitious scenes that only serve to lead the movie up to its inevitable conclusion, and does it ever milk every last bit of phoniness along the way.
There once wasn't a better soccer player in the world than George Dryer (Gerard Butler), "King George" to his legion of fans. He was on top of the world, but an injury a few years back put him permanently on the sidelines. Now, he's living in Virginia, a shell of his former self. He's split from his wife Stacie (Jessica Biel) but he's doing his best to remain close to his son Lewis (Noah Lomax). He's trying out for a spot at a local television station reporting sports but probably won't land the job. He's behind on his rent and things are looking bleak. One day, he voluntarily coaches his son's soccer team, and the parents are so impressed with the results -- and his good looks -- that he lands the gig permanently. On his tail, now, are three soccer moms: the desperate and emotional Barb (Judy Greer), the sultry Denise (Catherine Zeta-Jones), and the trophy wife Patti (Uma Thurman), the latter of whom is married to the team's millionaire booster (Dennis Quaid) who suspects his wife of running around with other men. But all George wants is his wife and son back. While he wards off advances from a trio of lovely ladies, he learns he might just get a job at the "Worldwide Leader in Sports," ESPN, located up the Atlantic coast in Connecticut. Can he win back the girl and land the job, or will he succumb to the desires of Virginia's most sexually ravenous women?
Playing for Keeps meshes together a few different RomCom staples, blending in the plot lines for the broken family drama, the playboy/bachelor angle, and the over-the-top sex antics and accidents, such as when a woman strips down to her lingerie believing she's in George's bed when in reality she's broken into his landlord's home instead. The family drama suffers through blatant predicability and extreme manufactured emotions, the playboy pieces are overcooked, and the humor never really strikes a chord. The film finds its best moments on the soccer field where Butler seems at home winning bets by kicking a bottle off the goalpost or deriding the opposition in front of his players. Such scenes are jovial and well-made, but hardly enough to overcome the absolute blandness that defines the rest. The film even pushes its audience towards the emotions it wants to create, playing music right out of the RomCom playbook, whether the happy-go-lucky "things are looking up" notes or the maudlin tunes that hover over the phony sad moments. Playing for Keeps really drags out the "suspense" right on through to the bitter end, going for the jugular with its efforts at piling on the transparent saccharine drama, trying ever so hard to earn that tear that the see-through plot doesn't deserve.
Yet for a movie with unimaginative drama and unfunny jokes, it sure did somehow manage to piece together a pretty stellar cast. The movie is largely saved by its acting; the cast does at least give it the benefit of the doubt, hamming up the would-be funny moments, notably those scenes between Butler and his harem of Jones, Thurman, and Greer. The ladies all play the parts adequately or better, with Greer standing out as the overly emotional and absolutely unconfident seductress. Butler's "aw shucks" attitude fits the material well enough. Still, audiences never see a real sense of inward conflict from him, at least not beyond the raw emotions the script demands. That's not his fault, though; blame the vacuous story. Butler and Dennis Quaid do share a nice bond in the film and chum it up very well as they portray stark (and stock) opposites, Quaid's character largely representing what Butler's character once was and still wants to be, at least financially. Technically, the film is nicely executed; it's just a shame Director Gabriele Muccino cannot find in this script even a modicum of the heartfelt honesty he pulled from his fantastic The Pursuit of Happyness.
Playing for Keeps Blu-ray, Video Quality
Playing for Keeps features a dazzling and nearly perfect 1080p high definition transfer. The transfer displays perfect clarity and razor-sharp imagery, the sort of true, organic, film-like elements for which Blu-ray was made. Light grain beautifully hovers over and defines some spectacular details. Facial and clothing textures couldn't be any more natural for this format, while well-maicured lawns, brick fašades, car interiors, and all sorts of objects enjoy unbeatable texturing. Colors are fabulous, too. Bright green vegetation, red bricks, and multicolored soccer jerseys look great; every hue under any lighting condition positively dazzles. Flesh tones do take on a very slight warm push, but black levels are true throughout. The image does show some very light banding in a few places, but that's the only real blemish on an otherwise pristine transfer from Sony.
Playing for Keeps Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Playing for Keeps' DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack is every bit the match for its top-flight video transfer. Music -- in all its genre-generic glory -- plays smoothly and with excellent clarity; both the lower, sad notes and the higher, upbeat notes both enjoy crisp, well-defined spacing and the perfect balance of surround support. It's all very well defined, with a positive low end support element that rounds it into harmonious shape. The track delivers a very rich, very realistic soccer din at all of the games; screaming children and yelling coaches and cheering parents are naturally blended together into very real sonic moments. Light ambiance is handled nicely; a gentle falling rain in chapter twelve sounds very much real. Dialogue, of course, plays naturally from the center, at just the right volume and always clear over any surrounding music or effects. In short, this track does just about everything right.
Playing for Keeps Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Playing for Keeps contains the following extras:
Playing for Keeps Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Playing for Keeps just doesn't have it. The drama lacks authenticity and the humor a genuine spirit, both letting down a talented cast that, no matter how good it might be, cannot save such a dull, lifeless experience. This is the very definition of manufactured cinema, built around phoniness from top to bottom. Sony's Blu-ray release of Playing for Keeps features stellar video and audio, as well as a few bonus features. For those who must play the disc, rent it; this isn't a keeper.
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Playing for Keeps Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Playing for Keeps Blu-ray - January 22, 2013
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has officially announced that it will release on Blu-ray Italian director Gabriele Muccino's Playing for Keeps (2012), starring Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel, Uma Thurman, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Dennis Quaid. The release will ...
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