A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Playing for Keeps is a romantic comedy about a faded former soccer star (Gerard Butler) who ends up coaching a youth soccer team in an effort to reconcile with his 9-year-old son after years of being an absentee dad. There are several scenes with people drinking (and sometimes getting a bit tipsy) and a moderate amount of swearing (including "s--t"). Some of the soccer moms pursue George quite aggressively and are anything but subtle about their intentions -- up to and including one who sneaks into his bedroom and strips down to her underwear while waiting for him to come home. Expect some kissing and the implication of a sexual hook-up, but nothing graphic is shown on-screen. While the movie has worthwhile themes about the importance of teamwork, parenting, and responsibility, women are mostly portrayed as needy and manipulative, which undercuts the positive take-away.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
George (Gerard Butler) was once an international soccer star, but in PLAYING FOR KEEPS, he's barely getting by and is relocating to suburban Virginia to rekindle his relationship with his 9-year-old son, Lewis (Noah Lomax). George ends up coaching Lewis' soccer team and quickly catches the eye of a few romance-starved soccer moms (Uma Thurman, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Judy Greer). They pursue him aggressively (and he doesn't always fight them off), but he soon realizes that he still has feelings for Lewis's mom, Stacie (Jessica Biel) -- but she's moved on with her life and is about to get married.
Is it any good?
A movie should have personality; otherwise, why call it entertainment? Some of the worst ones can at least find comfort in having a point of view. But to be, well, "meh?" Why bother? Playing for Keeps is about as formulaic as a romantic comedy can get, and goes light on both the laughs and spark. Thurman, Zeta-Jones, and Greer give it the old college try, but the story doesn't require them to do much more than look Butler up and down and then wait for a chance to pounce. Biel has a little bit more to work with, and her efforts are deeply felt, but it's almost a shame because it creates dissonance from the rest of this ho-hum film.
There's no momentum, no surprises, no energy. It's not awful, but it's not terribly good, either. It's just there. Since there's little here that's refreshing -- aside from Lomax's work as Lewis -- it's not hard to guess how things will turn out between George and Stacie. But it's not easy to see why we should sit in the audience, either.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Playing for Keeps portrays George as a dad. What do you think of his parenting? What does he learn during the film? How does he compare to other movie/TV dads?
How does the movie depict the women in George's life? Is it fair/accurate? What about the men?
Why do you think George and Stacie originally broke up? Should they get back together?
- In theaters: December 7, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: March 5, 2013
- Cast: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel
- Director: Gabriele Muccino
- Studio: FilmDistrict
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts
- Run time: 106 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some sexual situations, language and a brief intense image
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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