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Gabriele Muccino
Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel, Noah Lomax, Dennis Quaid, Uma Thurman , Catherine Zeta-Jones , James Tupper, Judy Greer
Writing Credits:
Robbie Fox

A former sports star who's fallen on hard times starts coaching his son's soccer team as a way to get his life together. His attempts to become an adult are met with challenges from the attractive soccer moms who pursue him at every turn.

Box Office:
$35 million.
Opening Weekend
$5.750 million on 2837 screens.
Domestic Gross
$13.101 million.

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Service
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 105 min.
Price: $35.99
Release Date: 3/5/2013

• Deleted Scene
• “The Playbook: Making Playing for Keeps” Featurette
• “Creating an All-Star Team: The Cast of Playing for Keeps” Featurette
• Previews


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Playing For Keeps [Blu-Ray] (2012)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 27, 2013)

After the enormous success of 2007’s 300, Gerard Butler looked primed to become a major movie star. Almost six years later, this ascension has yet to occur. While Butler gets lead roles, these films never do better than mediocre business, and many have outright bombed.

Into the latter category falls Butler’s latest, 2012’s romantic comedy Playing for Keeps. Despite a prime pre-Christmas release date, the film earned a poor $13 million in the US. Ouch!

I think Butler has talent, so I was curious to give Keeps a look and see if it deserved its fate. George Dryer (Butler) used to be a star soccer player, but now he finds himself retired and desperate for alternate work, as he lacks funds or good employment prospects. George also tries to get back with his ex-wife Stacie (Jessica Biel) – despite her recent engagement to Matt (James Tupper) - and he continues to attempt a good relationship with his young son Lewis (Noah Lomax), though he tends to be an absentee dad.

When George offers some quick instruction to Lewis’s soccer team, he becomes a hit with the parents and they ask him to take over as coach. George shows little interest, but Stacie guilts him into the gig as a way for George to show more devotion to Lewis. We follow the team’s season as well as George’s personal and professional lives.

If you look up “aimless” in the dictionary, you’ll see the poster for Keeps. I don’t ask for much from a romantic comedy; give me some interesting characters along with a few laughs and I’ll be reasonably happy.

Unfortunately, Keeps can’t live up to those modest goals. It couldn’t be more rote if it tried, especially in terms of its lead. George offers nothing more than the lovable rogue who finally learns to grow up. If you don’t know how the film will conclude before the end of the first five minutes, you need to get out more – no matter how many curveballs it attempts to throw at us, it comes with a prepackaged and phony finale.

If it made the remaining 100 minutes entertaining, I wouldn’t mind so much, but Keeps seems shockingly loose and random. At times I get the impression that someone chopped up 20 other rom-com scripts, threw them in the air and patched together the fragments. There’s little story or arc here; the movie just rambles along without purpose as it leads toward its inevitable conclusion.

Keeps thinks it can entertain us with a series of wacky characters, mainly via the soccer parents it presents. The film comes with a surprisingly strong supporting cast, as we find Catherine Zeta-Jones, Uma Thurman, Judy Greer and Dennis Quaid as the aforementioned parents. It wastes each and every one of them, as it paints them as horny buffoons with little else to offer. Why bother to hire such high-powered folks for such crummy roles? I have no idea; at least if the movie opted for lesser-knowns, I wouldn’t sense so much squandered talent.

The movie can’t even muster a good “bonding scene”. George impresses Lewis when he lets him sit in his lap and “drive” his sports car. Really? We’re supposed to applaud when a guy zooms along in a high-powered vehicle with an untethered kid at the wheel? The film treats this like a triumphant breakthrough, whereas it’s actually just idiotic and irresponsible.

Heck, the movie can’t even get its setting right. It takes place in Northern Virginia, home of relentlessly awful traffic, but it pooh-poohs that concept. It also seems to think NoVA and Maryland are the same place, as it touts crabs as part of the “real Virginia experience”; they’re not. If a movie wants to reflect its setting, it should get the details right – and probably not be shot as Louisiana for VA since the states look little alike.

But that’d assume a competence behind Keeps that doesn’t exist. Despite a stellar cast, there’s little to no competence to be found in this sloppy, aimless romantic comedy. It’s a waste of time and talent.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus C-

Playing for Keeps appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. The movie came with a competent but not great image.

Most of the movie displayed positive clarity and delineation, but some exceptions occurred. Occasional wide shots appeared a little softer than expected; those were infrequent, but they did come along for the ride. Jagged edges and moiré effects failed to appear, and edge haloes remained absent. Print flaws also stayed away from this clean image.

In terms of palette, Keeps went with natural tones affected by a mix of teal and orange. These weren’t heavy, but they did give the flick an odd look for a romantic comedy; Butler occasionally looked a bit like an Oompa-Loompa. Still, I blamed the visual design for that, not the transfer. Blacks showed good depth, while low-light shots boasted nice clarity. This was a “B” image.

Don’t expect much more than a standard romantic comedy mix from the disc’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, though a few minor exceptions occurred. Those mainly occurred at soccer games, which opened up the spectrum in a decent manner. Otherwise, the audio tended to be pretty restrained, so we didn’t get a lot of involvement and activity. This was fine for a movie of this sort, however, so the low-key soundfield wasn’t a detriment.

Audio quality was perfectly acceptable. Speech showed nice clarity and naturalism, and music was reasonably distinctive and dynamic. Effects lacked much to stand out, but they appeared accurate, and they showed mild punch when necessary. All of this seemed good enough for a “B-“.

When we shift to extras, we find two featurettes. The Playbook: Making Playing for Keeps lasts eight minutes, 24 seconds and provides comments from producers Kevin Misher, Heidi Jo Markel, John Thompson, Alan Siegel and Jonathan Mostow, screenwriter Robbie Fox, technical soccer advisor Oliver Wyss, and actors Gerard Butler, Judy Greer, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jessica Biel, and Noah Lomax. “Playbook” looks at the film’s origins and development, story/character topics, cast and performances, working with the director, and shooting the soccer scenes. A few decent details emerge, but this is mostly fluffy promo material.

Creating an All-Star Team: The Cast of Playing for Keeps occupies six minutes, 34 seconds and features info from Fox, Markel, Butler, Biel, Zeta-Jones, Greer, and actors Dennis Quaid and Uma Thurman. As expected, “Team” discusses cast, characters and performances. It follows the same lines as “Playbook”, so we get a smattering of useful notes but mostly encounter happy talk.

Seven Deleted Scenes run a total of 10 minutes, 17 seconds. We get “Stacie Lectures George” (1:54), “Carl Asks About Patti” (1:26), “Dryers On Dock” (1:12), “Patti’s Leaving Carl” (2:08), “Stacie and Lewis Talk in the Bedroom” (0:36), “George and Lewis Talk in the Bedroom” (1:40) and “George Borrows Carl’s Ferrari” (1:21). As often occurs with deleted scenes, secondary characters get much of the time here; while George maintains a consistent presence, the sequences tend to expand the supporting parts like Carl, Lewis and Stacie.

These fail to provide anything of interest. None of the character expansions contribute much, and none of the scenes deliver entertainment. Indeed, they make Stacie look like even more of a nag than she does in the final film. I admit I’m not sure how the editors knew what to cut – everything in the end product stinks, too – but I can’t claim any of these shots should’ve been in the movie.

The disc opens with ads for Safety Not Guaranteed and The First Time. These also pop up under Previews along with clips for Robot & Frank, Now Is Good and Here Comes the Boom. No trailer for Keeps pops up here.

If you want to see Oscar-caliber actors used as nothing more than horny housewives, dig into Playing for Keeps. If you desire a random, meandering “plot” and one-dimensional characters, this one’s for you! If you’d like to check out a flick that provides any form of entertainment, stay away from it. The Blu-ray comes with generally good picture and audio as well as a handful of minor bonus materials. Maybe 2012 produced a less charming romantic comedy, but I can’t think of one right now.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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