Review: Playing For Keeps

As I currently type this review Playing for Keeps is currently garnering a 3% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, however does the film really deserves the rating it is currently reaping? Personally I think not, as much to my own surprise I actually enjoyed it.

In all honesty I can see why many will loathe this film. We've seen similar stories told in the movies time and time again as the film is essentially Gerald Butler playing a former professional footballer who's fallen on hard times, trying to rekindle his relationship with his son by coaching his football team. However the thing that separates this from all other romantic comedies is that all of the kid's mums want a piece of Butler.

Normally when a films getting a bad time I am immediately intrigued to go and see it, just out of pure interest but as I said this happened to be a rare occasion where I actually came out pleasantly surprised. The film does have a lot of problems such as it is incredibly predictable as soon as it begins and it's not entirely fresh or innovative. As we all know films like this are released at least once a month, but if you can tolerate cheesiness or you love romantic comedies then I can happily recommend this film as I am certainly not the type of person who generally enjoys these types of movies.

I like Gerald Butler as an actor, sure he doesn't choose the best roles but in this I think he gives one of his strongest performances to date and the relationship he has with his on screen son is very strong. For the first time in a while this is a romantic comedy where I actually cared for the characters, especially Butler's as I did feel sorry for him. The overall line-up that this film offers is rather good too. For example you've got Jessica Biel, Dennis Quaid, Uma Thurman and Catherine Zeta-Jones all doing a fine job, so in terms of an ensemble cast the line-up is full of familiar faces, even if a few of them make it feel like 2003.

I was intrigued by this movie due to its football overtones. As a massive fan of the beautiful game it was nice to see a marginal emphasis on the sport, instead of the recent onslaught of baseball movies this decade. To call the film a comedy would be a bit odd as it's not very funny at all minus garnering the occasional chuckle, for me Playing for Keeps really excels when it's not trying to be funny. As a drama it is touching, it is sweet and it has some nice characters. Sure I previously moaned about how predictable the movie is but you wouldn't really want to see it go any other way as with films like this happy endings are probably expected.

Unlike last year January has got off to a pretty good start as a film like this which I expected to hate, I actually enjoyed. Sure it's not a great film but Playing for Keeps is a fairly good film that doesn't deserve its current panning.

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Director: Gabriele Muccino

Starring: Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel, Uma Thurman, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Dennis Quaid

Length: 105 min