Playing for Keeps is aimed at moviegoers who want to watch attractive people in a lightweight romantic comedy-drama. It won’t be up for any Oscars, nor will it score points for originality, but it’s harmless enough fare for its target audience. If that sounds like a back-handed compliment, it’s the best I can muster.
Gerard Butler is well cast as a onetime soccer star who’s at a low ebb in his life. He’s moved back to Virginia, hoping to make up for lost time with his 9-year-old son (appealing newcomer Noah Lomax)…and still carrying a torch for his ex-wife (Jessica Biel), who’s planning to marry her boyfriend. When Butler volunteers to coach his son’s team, he makes himself a highly visible magnet for a number of soccer moms, both married and single, including Catherine Zeta-Jones, Uma Thurman, and Judy Greer. He also becomes a target for Thurman’s blowhard of a husband, Dennis Quaid.
You can already imagine the misadventures that follow and, if not, the trailer will clue you in. Screenwriter Robbie Fox and director Gabriele Muccino don’t have many surprises in store for us, but it’s all easy to take, and just as easy to forget.