If IMDb is to be believed, Playing the Field, the Gerard Butler project formerly known as Slide has finally got a start date of March 2011. It had been rumored that the baseball themed, Robbie Fox comedy was being shopped around by Butler and Italian director Gabrielle Muccino for a while now and was finally picked up by Nu Image/Millenium. It is to be co-produced by Butler's own Evil Twins production company.
In the meantime the story has undergone a metamorphosis and the protagonist, as played by Butler, will no longer be a former baseball player, but more in keeping with Butler's Euro-centric style, will feature a retired futball (soccer) star who tries to reconcile with his estranged wife and son by coaching his son's soccer team.
From the little I have heard of the plot, the comedy element will come in the form of the soccer moms who all want a piece of the new, sexy coach (yes we all know what piece it is they want) and Mr. Studly will spend some time trying to deflect the advances of the oversexed and obviously under-serviced soccer moms so as not to imperil his plan to reconcile with his family.
Sound a little familiar?
With two movies in post production that Butler fans are hoping will redeem their idol's promising acting credentials after the tepid reviews of his last three movies (okay, I am being kind here), another predictable comedy that will do nothing to add luster to his resume makes one wonder who the heck picks his projects!
To be fair, this is bit unfair of me, especially considering the state of movie making today and the kind of movies that are making money for their investors. With actors such as Russell Crowe and others of his calibre striking out at the box office in favor of superhero, kiddie movies....one can see that perhaps he is taking what is being offered or can be made these days, the critics aside. One can't do Shakespeare everyday, can one?
Let me look at this another way. Rather than thinking this is going to be another dud like The Bounty Hunter with a predictable, cliched script and a lackluster pairing of the leads, let's dream a little here..... Let's put on our rose colored wishing glasses and think about how this movie could be different....
What if.....? What if this was a well written, stylish comedy with an interesting central pairing and lush setting? We're talking an Italian director here. What if Butler finally allows himself to actually play a retired Scottish futball star, a little rough around the edges, but smart and his ex-wife a fiery, but sophisticated Spaniard (or other nationality) English professor? How about letting the supporting characters have some level of smarts and not be Jersey Shore or Hollywood housewives types? How about a college town setting? A great child actor that really bonds with Butler? How about the comedy coming out of the clever writing and natural situations that we've not seen a thousand times before? How about a little drama and some interspersed pathos and maybe....yes not maybe....please...some passion (whether suppressed or expressed) between the leads? How about a little more Philadelphia Story or Love Actually and a little less Ugly Truth? Wouldn't that be grand?
I think I will keep on the rose colored glasses for a while and wait and see what comes out of the mix. The eventual casting will tell us a little....and oh how I wish I had a peek at the story! The title is not very promising, but let's hope the "Field" is a little more full and rich then the title implies.
As always, I am keeping my fingers crossed. I have hopes for this director. I have seen a few of his movies and perhaps will put a few more on my Netflix over the next month.
I am hoping Playing the Field is a symbolic title and not indicative of what Butler will spend his time doing in this movie. I want to see some sparks and the tinkling of some sparkling dialogue and lots of spontaneous laughter with no laugh track necessary.
I know....I'm a foolish optimist. But one can always hope.
Songs out of tune, the words always a little wrong...Canzoni Stonate