April 15, 2013

Playing for Keeps (2012)

An inexplicable number of famous people like Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel, Dennis Quaid, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Uma Thurman, & Judy Greer



I remember the first time I saw Gerard Butler. He was the Phantom in Phantom of the Opera. He somehow made singing with a deformed face hot. Then came 300.  The accent, the abs, leather underwear...it seemed he was destined to become the next Hollywood hottie. But then something went terribly wrong.

For one thing, he got fat, which is the #1 no-no in Hollywood for pretty much everyone who isn't Jack Black or Melissa McCarthy (aka people who were grandfathered in by already being fat and making money off jokes about them being fat). Unable to take his shirt off and relying solely on the accent, it was a slow, sad slide into bad romantic comedies like P.S. I Love You and The Ugly Truth (I can't even bear to talk about The Bounty Hunter). So why I thought a romantic comedy with Jessica Biel might be his ticket to redemption is beyond me. Maybe I was fooled by the presence of people I thought made good movies, like Dennis Quaid and Uma Thurman. (Which means I clearly blocked out any memory of the Footloose remake or My Super Ex-Girlfriend.)

Anyway, there are a couple things that make this movie worse than your average romantic comedy.
  1. Jessica Biel. If I need to expand on this further, you clearly need more help than I can provide.
  2. Gerard Butler's hair. He got his abs back (which I appreciate in a couple of shirtless scenes), but a blonde-highlighted quasi-mullet isn't helping him get his sex symbol status back.
  3. The utter bizarreness of some of the characters. I believe that crazy people exist (um, hello, San Francisco?!?), but putting so many of them together in one place and making them into caricatures of real people just makes the movie ridiculous.
  4. Wasted plot-line potential.
Not only was the movie predictable (like most romantic comedies are), but the fact that it could have been a decent movie is what makes it all the worse! There were several interesting ways the story could have gone, but it was like the writers were determined to draw the most straightforward path to the inevitable conclusion. So some of the best parts of the movie were nothing more than window dressing to make this exact same plot as 500 other movies seem slightly different.

Final word: Unfortunate, all the way around. For everyone involved.

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