For rom-com fans, "Playing for Keeps," might feel like a case of deja vu. Like most movies of this genre, the storyline feels all too familiar, as do the stereotypical characters. The main problem with this film is the fact that it doesn't succeed as a romance or a comedy. The script only has a few witty lines and just when the story builds to a climax, it lacks emotion and turns in a completely different direction.


The plot follows a retired soccer star (Butler) who is trying to get his life back on track when he is asked to coach his young son's soccer team. Yet he soon becomes popular among the recently divorced or unhappily married moms, which disrupts his plans. The second half of "Playing for Keeps" is certainly more engaging than the first; you begin to invest yourself in the story and the characters, despite the predictable "twists."


The film has a strong cast who have all been in their fair share of both good and bad romantic comedies -- but the best performance comes from Biel, who plays a convincing mother trying to provide a good life for son while battling her nostalgic feelings for the past. Aside from its flaws, "Playing for Keeps" is an enjoyable popcorn flick that doesn't try to be more than it is.


'Playing for Keeps'

Director: Gabriele Muccino

Cast: Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Uma Thurman, Dennis Quaid

Rating: PG-13

Grade: 3/5