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Playing for Keeps

The Scottish actor Gerard Butler doesn’t have a great track record with US movies but at least this spares us his American accent: he plays a Scottish former footballer who’s hit hard times in suburbia. The purpose of his relocation to the States is to bond with a son he’s neglected – and potentially get back together with the lad’s mum (Jessica Biel). But soon he’s conscripted to train his boy’s after-school soccer team and along the way starts to service the sex-starved moms.

These saucy interludes sit very oddly with the father-son bonding – it’s hard to know what this is trying to be: sports drama, family comedy, romance, mid life-crisis movie or sex farce? The latter option allows for enjoyable moments, thanks to a seductive, manipulative Catherine Zeta-Jones and a neurotic Judy Greer (even if neither does the image of women any favours). Meanwhile, Uma Thurman seems to think she’s in a Carry On film, all doe-eyed panting and heaving bosoms with Dennis Quaid on auto-pilot as her greasy wheeler-dealer husband.This has a decent cast, and Butler is reasonably charismatic. But everyone involved deserves a script with more wit, originality and sense of purpose.

Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Tuesday January 1 2013
Duration: 106 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Gabriele Muccino
Cast: Jessica Biel
Gerard Butler
Judy Greer
Dennis Quaid
Uma Thurman
Catherine Zeta-Jones
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