Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club. Because No News is Bad News.

Opening: Playing for Keeps 

There are two good things about this odd romantic comedy from Italian director Gabriele Muccino: Gerard Butler gets to speak in his native Scottish lilt; and it features a touching portrayal of the difficult relationship between a divorced dad (Butler) and his 9-year-old son (Noah Lomax), similar to the daddy-son duet in Muccino’s Pursuit of Happyness. The somewhat downbeat film has Butler playing George Dwyer, a former soccer star fallen on hard times. The nature of his downfall is not specified, only suggested by angry creditors’ calls and vague remonstrances from his ex-wife, Stacie (blank-faced Jessica Biel). George, who tools around in a scruffy Alfa Romeo, is broke but has hopes of becoming a sportscaster. He falls into a gig coaching his son’s soccer team and becomes the unwilling object of lust among a bevy of soccer moms who all happen to be model-beautiful (Hollywood’s fantasy of middle America). The women — Uma Thurman, Judy Greer, and a post-surgically unrecognizable Catherine Zeta-Jones — are predatory reptiles, in contrast to George’s idealized ex, whom he still loves even though she’s engaged to her bland new boyfriend. Muccino’s busy camera keeps things interestingly off-kilter, but Robbie Fox’s script leaves a lot of ends untied: a subplot involving a crazy, rich soccer dad (Dennis Quaid) goes nowhere, and George’s redemption is unmoving, because his problems are never dramatized. The movie does, however, mine genuine pathos from George’s attempts to bridge the emotional distance between him and his little boy.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.

More by Pamela Zoslov

Read the Digital Print Issue

November 18, 2020

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


© 2020 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation