Covo on “Playing for Keeps”:
In this version of the “Playing for Keeps” game, the protagonists win but the audience loses. In spite of the star-studded cast, heavy-hitters loaded with talent like Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel, Uma Thurman, Catherine Zeta- Jones and Dennis Quaid, the film fails to be engaging, charming or refreshing.
It’s an old tale of second chances for a man with lots of options failing to realize his potential and losing what is really important in life on the way.
This time, the fellow who’s lost his way is an aging soccer star, George Dryer (Gerard Butler) who returns to the town where his (ex) family lives to try to rebuild his relationship with his son and his former wife (Jessica Biel). He is somewhat down on his luck, of course, and gets trapped into being the new soccer coach for his kid’s team.
The new “angle” this film tries to deliver is the most distressing part. The soccer moms descend on this guy, who is somehow depicted as an incredible catch (really?)
At every turn, these women who seemingly have voracious sexual appetites and tremendous emotional need zero in on Dryer, a nice fellow who tries to help in any way he can. What’s worse is that in spite of the fact he apparently only has eyes for his ex – he manages to help a couple of the ladies out with absolutely no remorse. The fact is that I found it somehow disheartening to watch the likes of Uma Thurman, Jessica Biel, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Dennis Quaid performing roles so terribly undeserving of their immense talent.
The movie has some moments, thus two stars – but what could have been a comedic farce like “Soap” or even a rom-com with some smart satire turns into a predictable, shallow episode that should never have reached the silver screen. One wonders how such a stellar cast got roped into doing this movie with its substandard character development and downright boring screenplay. With all the great films out there like “Hitchcock” (see below), this is one that should be relegated to watching on video while doing something else productive, like household chores.
The movie is rated PG-13 and lasts for a very long hour and 45 minutes.
Ayotte on “Hitchcock”:
“Hitchcock” is a brilliant look into an otherwise not talked about part of Alfred Hitchcock’s life—his relationship with wife, Alma Reville.
First and foremost, Anthony Hopkins’ performance as Hitchcock could not have been any better. He echoes every classic nuance from Hitchcock’s puckered lower lip to his distinguishable posture. By far, his rendition of Hitchcock is one of the most convincing of the year, as is Daniel Day-Lewis’ Abraham Lincoln in “Lincoln.” These two will surely be battling it out at the Oscars for leading man of the year.
Helen Mirren as Alma Reville, his better-half in the film, delivers a performance only she could. She portrays the wife of the selfanguished genius to a tee and in her own right is quite a genius.
“Hitchcock” briefly reveals how they met and the escalation of their relationship from when they first started working together.
The majority of the film is centered on Alfred and Alma’s relationship during the making of “Psycho,” one of Alfred’s most successful films and one Alfred financed himself as Paramount lost faith in the aging director’s ability to make a good film.
The most interesting part of the entire film in my opinion is Alma Reville. It’s a name many people have never heard yet she was the backbone to Alfred Hitchcock’s career. In this case, the saying “behind every great man is a great woman” could not be more true. If it weren’t for Alma, Alfred wouldn’t have been half the director he is regarded as today. Alma saved his career and the film “Psycho” as Alfred’s first cut of the horror flick was atrocious according to the film.
“Hitchcock” is far from a love story as some reviews have described. There is no sappy love story here to drag down the script. The two have their troubles as Alfred struggles with his insecurities and Alma with her place in their relationship. Alfred has an unhealthy infatuation with many of his leading ladies, all blonde, that led to much of Alma’s troubles in the film.
One of his beautiful blondes, Janet Leigh, star of “Psycho” is played by the present-day beauty Scarlett Johansson. I love Johansson and this film proves why. She has the classic, timeless starlet look that makes a man melt.
Surprisingly, “Hitchcock” is PG-13. It’s a great film for any film buff and fan of the legendary Alfred Hitchcock. The younger generation might not appreciate but there is no doubt about it— “Hitchcock” is one of the better movies of the year.