Playing for Keeps (2012)

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Released 26-Jun-2013

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Romantic Comedy None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 101:02
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (55:08) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Gabriele Muccino

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Gerard Butler
Jessica Biel
Dennis Quaid
Uma Thurman
Catherine Zeta-Jones
Judy Greer
Noah Lomax
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Andrea Guerra

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, near the beginning of the credits sequence

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     George Dryer (Gerard Butler) is an ex-footballer who played Premier League and starred for Scotland. He seemingly had it all, but lost it after been forced to retire at 36 due to a knee injury. His success at football doesn't translate to success in life however. Having met his wife as a young American tourist (this is mentioned in the film to provide a backstory), George has now re-located to Virginia to be close to his son, Lewis (Noah Lomax). His ex-wife Stacie (Jessica Biel) is pleased to see him spend time with their kid, but all the soccer moms are pleased to see him for other reasons (wink-wink!). Can George leave behind his playboy ways to finally learn how to become a father?

     Imagine a clichéd Romantic Comedy film that utilises an all-star cast simply to develop the main character to his final lofty goal. If you aren't hoping for a rounded story, then Playing for Keeps is for you. A soppy, family-friendly, wink-wink, one-dimensional sex comedy that doesn't venture beyond what Gerard Butler and Katherine Heigl did in The Ugly Truth (which happens to be Butler's last Romantic Comedy film; seems he's playing to formula!)

     Gerard Butler plays George, the good-looking ex-footballer who has every woman only interested in bedding him, except for his ex-wife Stacie (Biel). George takes his son to soccer practise when he decides to coach his kid’s team, and all the soccer moms decide to invent ludicrous situations to get George. This is apart from Stacie, who spends the first hour of the film shaking her head at her ever-unreliable (but undeniably hunky) former hubby.

     This film is lucky to have such a star-studded cast to support it, but sadly it is wasted on the banal script which goes nowhere. Butler does his best, but it’s very hard to sympathise with a good-looking, ex-millionaire who can’t control himself sexually. Biel tries too, but her character is too one-dimensional; we see her only through her relationships with her son, fiancé and ex-husband.

     Thurman, Zeta-Jones and Greer all play the wealthy mums who are drawn in by Butler's character, George. These female characters are not well-developed; we know next-to-nothing about them, other than they want George. Thurman plays the sad, alcoholic, but very rich wife of the very successful Carl (Quaid) who knows he’s cheating but stays for the good life. Zeta-Jones is Denise, a former sports anchor who gives George a shot at being a sportscaster with ESPN if she can have an on-going affair with him, and Greer plays Barb, a hollow and empty woman who needs to 'score' to feel better about herself. They act only for George's character development and aren't interesting in their own right, which is a great shame for such fine actresses.

     Over all, Playing for Keeps is soppy, slightly misogynistic, tonally uneven and not very funny. There are a few laughs when the kids are involved from the soccer team, but unfortunately these are too few. If you liked The Ugly Truth, Butler's last romantic comedy film, then I'd say you won't mind this, but I would recommend otherwise that this is a rental only, not one to keep.

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Transfer Quality


     The video transfer is typical of films of this genre; generally the standard is excellent.

     The aspect ratio is 2:40:1, 16x9 enhanced for widescreen televisions.

     The film comes on a 5.18 gb dual-layered DVD with an average bitrate of 6.49 m/b per sec, which is about standard for DVD.

     Colours are realistic-looking, sometimes bright for the outdoor soccer scenes.

     There is a slight film grain quality to this video transfer, but otherwise it looks quite good.

     Subtitles are available in English.

     The RSDL change occurs at 55:08, at the beginning of a scene transition, so it is quite noticeable; you won't miss it.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     The audio transfer is just as good as the video transfer, it is especially well-mixed for home theatre systems.

     The main audio track is a Dolby Digital English 5.1 track encoded at 448 kbps. A Descriptive Audio track is available in English for the hard of hearing in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo, encoded at 256 kbps.

     The dialogue is clear from the centre channel and the audio is synchronised.

     The film score features a good mix of low-key and upbeat music which is balanced very well.

     The surround channel mix supports everything from background ambience to excessive and parochial crowd noise during the soccer games.

     The subwoofer is similarly utilised well to add low-end support when required.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Apart from the initial start-up trailers for Silver Linings Playbook and Safe Haven, there are no extras unfortunately!

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    As mentioned, The Region 4 Australian DVD release has no extras; however, both the Region 1 United States and the Region 2 United Kingdom DVD releases include the following extras:


     Romantic Comedies aren't always meaningful, but it would be desirable if the characters are affable and its story sympathetic for it to work. Playing for Keeps instead follows basic genre clichés and fails to branch out and delve into something deeper. It wouldn't surprise you, therefore, to know that Playing for Keeps was changed from its working title of Playing the Field, which sounds like a better title to sum up the film. Nevertheless, genre aficionados and fans of the film will love the technical presentation of Playing for Keeps, delivering excellent visuals and a wonderfully-balanced soundtrack. This is good for a Saturday night rental, just don't expect to be talking about it at the office by Monday.

Ratings (out of 5)


© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S550 (Firmware updated Version 020), using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA46A650 46 Inch LCD TV Series 6 FullHD 1080P 100Hz. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-K1000P. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationSony HTDDW1000
SpeakersSony 6.2 Surround (Left, Front, Right, Surround Left, Surround Back, Surround Right, 2 subwoofers)

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