WATCH: Gerard Butler Coaches Kids, Woos Soccer Moms in Playing For Keeps
It takes about ten seconds to guess how the latest Gerard Butler vehicle Playing for Keeps will most likely end (Is that Jessica Biel as Butler's harried ex, who still looks a bit mooney-eyed for her rascally baby daddy? And she's about to get married to someone else? A classic Rom-Com 101 recipe for love! ) but that won't stop the target demo from swooning come December 7. And let's be real: I will so watch this movie, predictable or not.
It's not that Butler is all that swoon-worthy as a middle-aged loser athlete clinging to his past greatness. (Gross.) It's not that Playing for Keeps, with its groan-worthily on the nose sports-themed title, feels fresh in any way whatsoever. (It doesn't. But how great would it be if this was a remake of the Weinstein-directed 1986 rock 'n' roll hotel comedy of the same name?)
And don't get me started on how Uma Thurman and Catherine Zeta-Jones, both 42 and exactly the same age as Butler, have become Hollywood's go-to cougar-types while the 12-years-younger Jessica Biel is positioned as Butler's fresh-faced leading lady.
I'll go see this Playing for Keeps because it vaguely reminds me of those '90s rom-coms that used to star Michelle Pfeiffer and Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks and John Cusack, the kind of movies about grown-ups of a certain age dealing with parenting and careers and their own crippling failings while still falling in love. (Like I said: A vague reminder. Let's just all blow off work and go Netflix One Fine Day, shall we?)
Also, those brief soccer-tot scenes remind me of Ladybugs. And The Big Green. And I kinda want to see Gerard Butler juggle a few balls and shoot a Gatorade bottle off a goalpost with a soccer ball. For that matter, forget Butler: I'd like to see Biel, reportedly a soccer ace in real life, dribble circles around Butler on the pitch. Give me that movie, Hollywood.
Verdict: Feels predictable, familiar... and mindlessly watchable. Eh, why not?
Playing for Keeps hits theaters on December 7 and is directed by Gabriele Muccino (The Pursuit of Happyness, Seven Pounds).