When critics write about Gabriele Muccino‘s English language movie Playing For Keeps they’ll say all the wrong things. They’ll call it generic, artificial, formulaic, and predictable.
Yeah, sure. But they won’t tell you the good things about it. It’s sweet. It’s romantic. It’s got freakingly handsome Gerard Butler not holding back with his irresistible Scottish accent. It’s got real kids saying real kid things and not mouthing off to adults or swearing. It’s free of bathroom jokes, ridiculous antics that involve senior citizens hip hop dancing and offensive jokes about projectile vomiting, Viagra, or binge drinking. It’s nice; is that so wrong?
When George (Gerard Butler) a former soccer star, falls on hard times, he moves to Virginia to be near his ex-wife, Stacie, played by Jessica Biel, and his son. Do we immediately know that George and Stacie will get back together? We sure do; its predictable. It’s got stuff that we’d predict will happen in real life, not just the movies. It’s got obnoxious soccer parents, lustful soccer moms, and lazy soccer coaches. Ask any parent with a kid that plays soccer; this is predictable.
And thank God. Do you know how pissed off I would have been if George and Stacie hadn’t gotten back together, if Muccino had disappointed me with some kind of cruel, existential, artsy ending? I wanted George and Stacie to get back together. I settled into waiting for the reward at the end of the movie when George and Stacie get back together. That’s all I really require from a good rom-com. Two good-looking and nice people who show us that love can conquer all in a nominally believable way.
And I can’t be the only one who appreciates a movie without farting, teenagers getting laid, and children telling their parents to “fuck-off”?
I can’t. Can I?
I was entertained. I don’t expect an academy award coming Muccino’s way. But I left the theater with a genuine smile. Critics who try to dismiss this movie should be fired.