Although Stacie challenges George to move on with his life just as she’s moving on with hers, the movie wants us to root for them to get back together. While that may be admirable to some extent, it doesn’t work dramatically. For when Stacie urges George to get his own life, we side with Stacie. When George gets in the way of Stacie’s wedding plans, we wish, along with Stacie, that he would butt out. And when Stacie’s boyfriend confronts her over her feelings for George, we watch as a man who has treated Stacie well is cast aside in favor of a man who can’t pay his rent.

Granted, by that point in the film, George’s situation has improved, thanks to the improbable contrivances of Hollywood storytelling (not only is one soccer mom extremely attractive, she has connections to ESPN and a potential broadcasting career for George). But with no reason to root against the man who’s been good to Stacie and has helped her raise Lewis, viewers don’t have much invested in George and Stacie’s reconciliation.

Playing for Keeps releases amid a batch of strong end-of-year films, nearly all of which are more worth your time and money than this weak, conflicted film. Butler’s star may still be rising, but when it shines this dimly, is it even worth noticing?

CAUTIONS

  • Language/Profanity: “He-l”; “a-s”; “son of a b-tch”; “wankers”; “s-it”
  • Alcohol/Smoking/Drugs: Drinking at a party; beer with dinner; women share drinks with George
  • Sex/Nudity: Bare-chested George shown a couple of times; women come on to George constantly; one woman kisses him passionately, and the next scene shows George waking up to find a note from the woman, who has left; Lewis sees George kissing a soccer mom; a woman strips to her underwear and lays on George’s bed, and tries to get him to join her
  • Violence/Crime: Mention of damage to a boy’s testicles; an offer of money from a player’s dad is a form of bribery; George watches a horror movie with his son; a man has George bail him out of jail; George lets Lewis drive his Ferrari; men shove each other, pull each other to the ground and fight
  • Marriage: George is divorced; a woman knows of her husband’s infidelity and accepts it; advice to not stay in an unhappy marriage

Questions? Comments? Contact the writer at crosswalkchristian@hotmail.com.

Publication date: December 7, 2012