Movie review: Romance, farce collide in 'Playing for Keeps'

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The clock may be running out on Gerard Butler's window as a viable leading man, as his scruffy charms wear thin in the romantic comedy "Playing for Keeps."

Butler plays George Darby, once an internationally renowned soccer star but now a down-on-his-luck divorced dad in a D.C. suburb. Watching his son, Lewis (Noah Lomax), at soccer practice, George gets frustrated by the terrible coaching and decides to take over coaching duties himself.

George soon draws the admiring gaze of the various soccer moms: needy Barb (Judy Greer), man-eating Denise (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and still-married Patti (Uma Thurman), in spite of her possessive husband, Carl (Dennis Quaid). But George's heart still belongs to Lewis' mom, Stacie (Jessica Biel), who's about to marry dull-but-nice Matt (James Tupper).

Director Gabriele Muccino ("Seven Pounds," "The Pursuit of Happyness") can't decide whether Robbie Fox's script should be played as sex farce or heart-tugging romance — and splitting the difference is a loser both ways.; —


'Playing for Keeps'

Opens Friday, Dec. 7, at theaters everywhere; rated PG-13 for some sexual situations, language and a brief intense image; 106 minutes.