Making the Grades
Soccer great George Dryer (Gerard Butler) is a long way from the top of his game. His career is finished. His marriage is over. And his debt load is soaring. Hoping for a job as a sports anchor, he makes demo tapes in his rented apartment. But so far, his future isn’t looking too bright.
The only good thing in his life is his son Lewis (Noah Lomax) who he shares custody of with his former wife Stacie (Jessica Biel). After sitting through a couple of Lewis’ soccer practices where the coach gets off his cell phone only long enough to yell at his young players, George steps in with an offer to mentor the team. The kids are happy to finally have someone who knows how to play, but it is the soccer moms that are thrilled with the handsome and single new coach.
Like flies to road kill, they swarm all over him, shamelessly showing up at his apartment or pulling him away from his son. Unfortunately George isn’t too good at saying no and on more than one occasion he gives in to some exclusive one-on-one practice sessions. Meanwhile, George’s ex Stacie tries to shield Lewis from disappointment while wrapping up the final preparations for her marriage to her live-in boyfriend Matt (James Tupper).
However George and Barb (Judy Greer) and George and Denise (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and George and Patti (Uma Thurman) aren’t the only grown-ups involved in extracurricular relationships. One girl on George’s team confesses her father sleeps in the maid’s bedroom and Patti’s husband Carl (Dennis Quaid) points out his mistress at a house party he hosts.
Sexual activity aside, the film’s action is plotted out like a child’s paint-by-number set. Before wedding bells ring, Stacie has to choose between her ruggedly handsome, irresponsible former husband and her buttoned-down, exciting as vanilla live-in boyfriend. Given George’s delinquent past and reckless sex life, vanilla might be good.
If you still think that kids kicking a soccer ball around the field will make Playing for Keeps a family film, don’t be fooled. Few movies take seriously the implications of philandering grown-ups on their innocent offspring. And with seemingly no consequences for their raging hormones, the adults get away without even a yellow card while the kids pay the penalty when their parents fail them.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Playing For Keeps.
Who pays the most when it comes to divorce? How does Lewis respond to the frequent disappointment he feels when his father lets him down? What can divorcing parents do to help lessen the impact on their children?
What plans and preparations do athletes need to make for their inevitable retirement? Does becoming a sports caster seem like a good option for George?