Playing for Keeps

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Playing for Keeps Movie Poster Image
Ho-hum sports romcom lacks both laughs and chemistry.
  • PG-13
  • 2012
  • 106 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Playing for Keeps has messages about the importance of being a good parent, the value of teamwork, and the possibility of growing and changing enough to be worthy of a second chance. The movie makes the point that the biggest part of parenting is simply being there, a lesson that's at first hard for George to grasp as he tries to reconcile with his 9-year-old son after years of being a mostly absent dad. But he tries hard and makes progress.

Positive Role Models & Representations

George is a charming flake who's irresistible to the local soccer moms. But he's a harder sell to his ex-wife and their son, who know that he can't be relied upon. But eventually he grows up (a bit) as he tries to reconcile with them both and learns some important lessons about life and responsibility. Unfortunately, most of the women in the movie are portrayed as needy and manipulative.


Two men get into a pushing and shoving fight and end up wrestling on the ground. Shoving during a soccer match. One scene features characters watching a gory horror movie.


Several scenes show women blatantly flirting with and throwing themselves at George, and he doesn't always fend them off. It's implied that he hooks up with one of them. One scene shows a woman in bed in her underwear, propositioning a man. Kissing. A married man discusses his philandering, and some of the women pursuing George complain of their unhappy marriages.


Relatively infrequent swearing includes "s--t," "crap," "hell," "ass," "damn," "oh my God," and "wankers."


A red Ferrari convertible has a starring moment, but George usually drives around in an Alfa Romeo. Another character is frequently seen in her Jeep. Several scenes show Apple products, including an iPhone and a Mac laptop. Other products are visible in the background of some scenes, including cans of Coca-Cola. Both Nike and Adidas sportswear get some prominent screen time, and a bottle of Gatorade makes an important cameo.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Several scenes show people drinking wine, beer, champagne, and liquor -- at parties, during meals, or while relaxing at home. A few characters get a bit tipsy at a nostalgic lunch. One character is implied to be somewhat drunk most of the time.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byblahtomotoesblah August 29, 2013

Not for keeps

This movie is a nonsensical, non-family oriented piece of trash that belongs in the garbage can. It has nothing to do with soccer but more to do with nasty adul... Continue reading
Parent of a 10 and 13-year-old Written bylovemykiddos December 10, 2012

Don't waste your money!

In all honesty, I went to see this movie because I love Gerard Butler. However, the movie deals with a divorced family who actually ends up (SPOILER) getting b... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byMaWalker66 July 21, 2013
Kid, 10 years old July 5, 2013


I saw this movie with my mum in the cinema when it came out. We were going to see Pitch Perfect but there was a problem with the projector, so we decided to see... Continue reading

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?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sports

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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