There are bad movies, and there are bad movies. And then, far down below all of them, where Adam Sandler even fears to tread, there is Playing for Keeps— perhaps the most painfully awful, pathetically illogical, and (get this!) downright offensive movie made in recent memory.
It’s not inconceivable to think that it may single-handedly destroy (or at least severely tarnish) the legacies of everyone involved… and there’s actually some decent talent on display here. Sure, I think we can all now admit that Gerard Butler must be kept away from movie theaters now at all costs, but, beyond that– Catherine Zeta-Jones? Dennis Quaid? Jessica Biel, Uma Thurman, and even Judy Greer? It boggles the mind. What on Earth were they thinking when they signed up for this mess?
Butler stars as George Dryer, a washed-up ex-soccer star who moves to Virginia to be closer to his estranged young son, Lewis (Noah Lomax). Lewis’s mom (George’s ex) Stacie (Biel), is set to get re-married within a few months. Hmmm, does anyone else see where this thing is headed, before it even gets going? Even before George agrees to become Lewis’ soccer coach?
To make things nice and misogynistic, though, we’re subjected to a bevy of soccer moms (all conveniently single or stuck in failed marriages) who have no choice, it seems, but to throw themselves at George’s feet (and into his bed). Greer is a weepy divorcée who just can’t stop hugging him. Zeta-Jones is a manipulative vixen who finds a way to make Dryer owe her, ahem, favors. And Thurman is a sex-starved socialite whose husband (Quaid) is having several affairs, so, dammit, why shouldn’t she?
It would be easy to lay all the blame at the feet of criminally-inept screenwriter Robbie Fox –after all, this is the same guy whose last contribution to cinema was Pauly Shore’s 1994 debacle In the Army Now— but these people should honestly know better. Zeta-Jones’s performance makes her ridiculous recent turn in Rock of Ages seem downright Oscar-worthy. And you’ll be hard-pressed to make it through a the first half-hour without thinking Quaid must have recently sustained some type of traumatic head injury.
Heck, even the aw-shucks story of bad-dad-making-good can’t save this drivel from being a train wreck of the highest magnitude.
Playing for Keeps makes no sense (in fact, the script actually confounds logic on so many levels), and it’s wholly off-putting to an entire gender.
It deserves to be kicked in the shins, stomped on, and then left to cry for its mommy.