By Kummam Mohammed Al-Maadeed
Gerard Butler is bringing back his renowned charm in the A-list casted film ‘Playing for Keeps’. George (Butler), a former football mega star, finds himself jobless and alone. In his attempt to repair his relationship with his son, Lewis (Noah Lomax) he ends up coaching a children’s football team. This doesn’t only allow him to bond with his son, but also places him in the middle of the suburban drama. Between Carl (Dennis Quaid), the affluent suburbanite and the desperate housewives (Uma Thurman, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Judy Greer), George struggles to maintain his relationship with Lewis. As crazy as his life gets, George is inspired by his ex-wife, Stacie (Jessica Biel) to grow up, fight for what he wants and “to be there” for those who matter.
The film is light, heartwarming and amusing. It’s entertaining to see George coach the hilarious children and discover how he fits into suburban society. The setting of the film is soothing, composed of beautiful park scenes and a quiet neighbourhood atmosphere. The shots are colorful and bright, and even the scene of George playing with his son in the rain shines with joy.
The film runs for 105 minutes and carries itself at a good pace, but there were some unnecessary scenes that could be cut to make the film sharper and more entertaining. The growing bond between George and Lewis is moving and touches your heart. To be moved in a Gabriele Muccino film is to be expected. His history of filmmaking stands as proof, having directed films such as, Seven Pounds, The Pursuit of Happiness, and Remember Me, My Love.
With a cast of renowned actors, the one who stole the show was Noah Lomax. The child is brilliant in his acting and expressions. His laughter, his pain and his worries were very believable and added an extra element to the film. Ultimately, it is his performance that keeps viewers entertained while they root for the young protagonist. Other than Gerard Butler and Jessica Biel, the rest of the cast did not deliver performances as would be expected. It could be because the actors were supporting characters, for example, Judy Greer could have been given a role as a more comedic and involved character as she has been away from the big screen for a while—and would be up to the challenge.
The film is a cliché, but the real question is why do filmmakers recreate these same stories over and over again? The answer is because most audiences love it. We enjoy seeing someone on the screen go through a hardship in life, grow up and finally triumph over adversity. This human struggle for happiness is something we relate to, something we do every day. People struggle in life, thus most go to the theatre to see this kind of story, the kind with a happy ending, which makes viewers more hopeful as they face the world again.
‘Playing for Keeps’ will make you smile, it will make you laugh and it will definitely make you cry. Gabriele Muccino has created a compelling film to watch, offering a relaxing viewing experience after a week of hard work.