Playing For Keeps Blu-ray Review
PLAYING FOR KEEPS is a movie of unfulfilled potential. It wastes an impressive cast with a script that consistently fails. I get very impatient with movies that move from genre to genre and don’t do any of them well. Is this a romantic comedy? A wacky farce? A family drama? Who knows? It doesn’t succeed in any of these genres.
Gerard Butler plays George Dryer, a former soccer star that has hit a rough patch. George used to be loved by millions in his playing days. He played for his country in the World Cup. He played against David Beckham. The guy had it all until a devastating injury forced him to retire. Now he is down on his luck living in a guest house. He is behind on his rent and creditors are after him. This is shown by the ever ready answering machine where you can hear the messages. Who has these answering machines anymore? Don’t most people have voicemail? I am just thinking out loud. I realize it is more dramatic to have these answering machines, but it isn’t exactly practical in the sense of the real world.
George now lives in the same city as his ex-wife Stacie (Jessica Biel) and his nine-year-old son Lewis (newcomer Noah Lomax). He’s making the rounds at television stations trying to become a sportscaster. His son Lewis is following in his footsteps by playing soccer. Lewis’s current coach is nowhere near an expert in teaching the kids how to play the sport. He just basically spouts off things like kick the ball and nonsense like that. How in the world was this guy given this position? That is where George comes into play. He soon assumes control as head coach and teaches the kids the basic fundamentals. The dialogue from the kids when George takes over is laughable. It didn’t seem natural in any way and inserted just for laughs. But it’s not funny when you don’t believe what they say.
With this new position come the wacky parents that are involved. You first have Carl (Dennis Quaid), who likes to throw his money around. He gives George a large envelope filled with cash. I don’t know for what purpose exactly. He stated it was for the trophies at the end of year, but it was mainly to conveniently get George out of his financial jam. Carl is such a cartoon character in every way. He cheats on his wife Patti (Uma Thurman) with impunity, but doesn’t want her to step out on him. He also casually loans George an expensive car just for the heck of it. Carl pops up whenever the screenplay needs to throw a road block in George’s way. Carl gets thrown in jail, so George has to bail him out and makes his son miss his soccer game. Patti tries to seduce George and Carl is there with pictures to add resistance to George getting back together with Stacie.
Of course all the soccer moms want to bed George. I already mentioned Patti and her devious ways. We also have Barb (Judy Greer), who is constantly crying and wants George to ease her pain. Then you have Denise (Catherine Zeta-Jones), a former sportscaster who helps George in his job hunt. She naturally lusts after George as well. ESPN gets a nice plug thrown in with one of the easiest job interviews recorded on film. George essentially gets the job by going off script. I wish things was that easy as portrayed here. I was a bit uncomfortable on how the female characters are shown in this film. They are either oversexed moms after George or door mats like Stacie.
At first PLAYING FOR KEEPS is like a sitcom with the moms throwing themselves at George with regularity. I half expected Jack Tripper to stumble on to the screen. It tries to get serious with the situation involving George, Stacie and Lewis. Stacie has a finance in Matt (James Tupper), a nondescript guy who doesn’t have a chance here. Matt is merely window dressing to all the wackiness. He contributes nothing and is not really given any characteristics. Stacie has been dating him for three years, so she sees something in him. But everyone knows where this is going. There are no surprises here. We also have the dynamic between George and Lewis. It starts out rocky at first. I wonder how that will turn out. Will there be some setbacks in this relationship? We all know the answers to these questions.
The original title for PLAYING FOR KEEPS was PLAYING THE FIELD. That title actually makes more sense in what is shown. But the powers to be probably wanted a more family oriented title to appeal to the masses. This film frankly doesn’t appeal to anyone.
Video: The transfer is beautifully realized. All the bright colors stand out. That is one thing they did right here.
Audio: I had no problems with the sound. It is nice and crisp in the sports action scenes.
Deleted Scenes (10:17): Seven scenes in all. There are more interactions between George, Lewis and Stacie in some combination. It would have added more dialogue to the scenes already in the film. There are couple more scenes with George and Carl involving his car and his wife. There is a scene with George and Patti detailing her intentions.
The Playbook: Making Playing for Keeps (8:24): It talks about the genesis of the movie. There is a discussion on how important casting the right people for the key roles. The cast sings the praises of the director and goes over the language barriers that the director had. There is a nice sequence about how the soccer scenes were choreographed. This was a good feature.
Creating An All-Star Team: The Cast of Playing for Keeps (6:34): Many of the cast members talk about their roles and what drew them to the film. Jessica Biel wanted to work with the director and play a mother role. Catherine Zeta-Jones loves sports. Uma Thurman wanted to do something light. Judy Greer drew upon her friends going through the same situation as her character. Dennis Quaid wanted to have a good time with a good script. Gerard Butler liked all the many facets of the movie.