By MARK TURNER
The other day I found myself explaining to my niece what a formula movie was. For those who don't know it's a movie that follows a well-used formulaic plot that we've seen over and over again with a twist on it to make it new.
This sort of movie feels like we've seen it before with perhaps a different setting or characters, but, yes, we have seen it before. Gerard Butler seems to be making a living out of these sorts of films with an occasional new film in the mix. That doesn't make these bad films, just predictable, and each time Butler has made one I've found it enjoyable to view.
This time around Butler plays George, an ex-professional soccer player who was once top in the field. Those days are long gone and now he finds himself trying to reconnect with his son Lewis (Noah Lomax), a boy he's neglected for some time since he and his wife Stacie (Jessica Biehl) divorced. Taking him to soccer practice one afternoon George is stunned at the inept coaching the team is receiving. Stepping in, he begins to teach them the right way to play, which eventually lands him the job of coaching the team.
But coaching the team isn't the only thing George ends up doing. This group of soccer moms all find themselves hot for the coach. Not only that one of the fathers (Dennis Quaid) sees him as a possible friend and definitely someone he can take to a party to impress potential clients. Quaid goes so far as to reveal that he's having an affair but at the same time jealous of anyone who might take an interest in his wife (Uma Thurman).
Seeing a possibility of things finally going right for him, George might not say he hopes to return to his ex-wife but you can see it in his eyes. That falls apart when he finds out that in three weeks she's getting married to Matt, the man she's been with for the last three years. It seems George's timing is always off.
That comes to light again when he gets the chance to audition for ESPN as an announcer. If he gets the job it means leaving once again. As the film progresses, that becomes something harder and harder for him to do as he finally begins to build the bond with his son that should have been there from the start. Will he stay and work on his family life or go to ESPN? Will he find a way to win back the heart of his ex? Will he be able to stop the advances of nearly all the soccer moms? Being a formula film the answer to these questions is easy. The enjoyment lies in seeing how it plays out.
The movie is an enjoyable film to sit back and watch. Butler is a natural in roles like this but my guess is he'd love a bit more of a challenge. Biehl is lovely as ever and displays a great acting ability, one that is shown by making a believable character. Over the top theatrics can kill a performance. Here, she comes off as just who the character is.
Well made, well shot and predictable, the movie doesn't offer a whole lot that is new. While those who like formulaic films will take comfort in that, it also can lead to a movie that's nothing to get excited about either. I found myself wanting to like this film more but found it little more than light entertainment. It might make a nice film to watch for an evening but my guess is other than Butler and Biehl fans it won't be sitting on too many shelves.
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