Playing for Keeps Movie Poster Image

Playing for Keeps



Ho-hum sports romcom lacks both laughs and chemistry.
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 106 minutes

What parents need to know

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

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.

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.

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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:December 7, 2012
DVD/Streaming release date:March 5, 2013
Cast:Catherine Zeta-Jones, Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel
Director:Gabriele Muccino
Topics:Sports and martial arts
Run time:106 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:some sexual situations, language and a brief intense image

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Parent of a 11 and 13 year old Written bylisa111 December 9, 2012

awsome movie!

What other families should know
Too much sex
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 back together. I don't believe it was a movie made for kids. There were huge, beautiful homes, fancy cars, money being tossed around like no tomorrow. The father/coach in the movie (Gerard Butler) has soccer moms throwing themselves at him, and perhaps the worst part was that infidelity seemed almost "ok". One of the married mothers shows up on his bed wearing a bra and panties. I was more shocked to find out that my kids saw the movie the day before I did with their dad (although he knows my daughter loves soccer and probably thought it'd be a good soccer movie). Neither of my kids, ages 13 and 10, enjoyed the movie. Both thought it was inappropriate, in fact my 13 year old boy actually said he thought it should have been rated R.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much sex
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
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 Playing for Keeps instead. It was okay, but it wasn't very realistic. There is some language and there isn'tsex but there are women just wearing their underwear so i was only 10 and i saw that, it was alright but instead of being rated a 12A like it is in the cinema, I think it should have been rated a 15A. also the guy's ex-wife says 's*** s*** s*** s*** s***' repeatedly very clearly.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing