Playing for Keeps (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 2 Old 02-20-2013, 06:31 AM - Thread Starter
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The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109942&d=1210373647

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109942&d=1210373647

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

Studio and Year: Sony Pictures - 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 105 minutes
Genre: Comedy/Romance

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Dennis Quaid, Judy Greer, Uma Thurman, James Tupper, Noah Lomax
Directed by: Gabriele Muccino
Music by: Andrea Guerra
Written by: Robbie Fox
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: March 5, 2013

"How far would you be willing to go to score the winning goal?"

Film Synopsis:

Playing for keeps is a romantic comedy about a charming, down-on-his luck former soccer star (Butler) who returns home to put his life back together. Looking for a way to rebuild his relationship with his son, he gets roped into coaching the boy’s soccer team. But his attempts to finally become an “adult” are met with hilarious challenges from the attractive “soccer moms” who pursue him at every turn.

My Take:

Playing for keeps revolves around a former professional soccer star that once had it all, including a loving young wife and son, who now has nothing to show for all that he once had but has decided to “grow up” beginning with reconnecting with his son. Moving into the small Virginia town where his ex-wife Stacie (Biel) and son Lewis live, George is low on cash and has hopes of landing a job as a sportscaster for a local TV affiliate. He is trying to keep the fragments of his life together and is having difficulty with the notion that Stacie is engaged to be married.

Things turn around for him when he is solicited by Lewis’ soccer team’s parents, to takeover as coach. George becomes a hit, with the kids, their parents (especially some of the lonely soccer moms) and begins to form a bond with Lewis. He feels that he squandered his marriage to Stacie and can’t escape the hopes of another opportunity to be a family. His past deeds or lack thereof has hardened her heart and she has moved on. The new people in George’s life all seem to want a piece of him and he finds himself struggling to find balance. When he gets a chance at a job with ESPN George decides to put everything on the line and take one final shot at reigniting the flame with Stacie.

Playing for keeps is a typical romantic comedy that bristles with conventional themes/situations and humor. The characters are lifeless and the romance/chemistry between George/Staci (Butler/Biel) never feels genuine. The high note is the relationship between George and Lewis which is supported fairly well by Gerard Butler and Noah Lomax. There are several insipid subplots involving romantic advances by soccer moms portrayed by Catherine Zeta-Jones, Judy Greer and Uma Thurman as well as a nondescript scenario featuring Dennis Quaid as a sleazy well to do husband. The subplots derailed the film’s flow and thematic warmth. I found myself wondering aloud how a group of actors with the pedigree of those mentioned find themselves playing daft roles and ultimately second fiddle? Oh well.

Playing for keeps is pretty forgettable but manages to come together in the end especially for those that enjoy mawkishly entertaining romantic comedies. I didn’t mind it but then again I have a high threshold for “mawkishly entertaining”.

Parental Guide:

The rating is for some sexual situations, language and a brief intense image.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

Audio: 80

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

Video: 88

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373699

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373699

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373699

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373699

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

Playing for keeps comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 25 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.8 Mbps.

This is an excellent video presentation that boasts plenty of high level detail, strong contrast, deeply saturated colors, and three dimensional acuity. Blacks are punchy and stand out when onscreen with mixed content. Visual perspective in low lighting is estimable which enhances depth. Images are dynamic, boldly colorful, clearly drawn, eye catching and perfectly suited for the source material. I didn’t see any obvious signs of video artifacts or extraneous noise.

The lossless DTS-HD MA soundtrack has good dynamic range and detail rich clarity that enables the detection of subtle background sounds within the acoustic environment created by the surround mix. Dialogue is firmly planted in the center channel which clearly renders voices and effects with appropriate distinction and tonal balance within the front soundstage. Low frequency effects aren’t noteworthy but the subwoofer is kept busy as it works in tandem with the rest of the system to appropriately convey the low level bass associated with the film’s recorded elements.

Bonus Features:

  • (HD) 7 deleted scenes

  • (HD) The playbook: making Playing for keeps – 8 minutes featurette

  • (HD) Creating an all-star team: The cast of Playing for keeps – 6 minute featurette

  • Ultraviolet Digital Copy

Final Thoughts:

Playing for keeps is a typical romantic comedy that bristles with conventional themes/situations and humor. The result is a forgettable film that more than likely will only appeal to fans with a high tolerance for schmaltzy entertainment. It comes to Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring pleasing high definition video, crystal clear lossless sound and a middling supplemental package that consists of a pair of behind the scenes documentaries and a handful of deleted scenes. This is a rental at best but my advice would be to wait and catch it on cable TV if you’re interested.


Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS55 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Onkyo PR-SC5508 THX Ultra 2 Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package

Ralph C. Potts
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post #2 of 2 Old 03-07-2013, 03:48 AM
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Watched this last night. Definetly a spot-on review. Not so much a comedy as a dysfunctional family. Something seemed off with the contrast though. It looked blow out. Not quite sure how to describe it. The movie made the women look terrible with how it was shot.
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