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Playing for Keeps
IMDB Rating: 4.1/10 from 452 votes
Release: 3 October 1986 (USA) /

Playing for Keeps

Genre: Comedy, Family
Director: Bob Weinstein,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: Danny, Spikes and Silk have just recently graduated from high school in New York. Danny finds a title deed for a huge house in a small town. He has a dream to turn it into a Rock n' Roll hotel. The townspeople though are not very welcome to the New Yorkers. With a little help from an aging stockbroker, a local girl, and the "stockholders" (friends from New York), they are able to help Danny pursue his dream. Written by Pat McCurry <[email protected]>

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Critic Reviews

I loved PLAYING FOR KEEPS when it was released in '86; I went to see it three times, and bought the soundtrack at least twice on cassette (I kept wearing it out). What can I say? I was 12. It was, at the very least, my introduction to Pete Townshend and, eventually, The Who. Last year I found the CD for a dollar in a cutout bin, and I'm shamelessly wallowing in it right now. (I'm in full-tilt cheesy '80s soundtrack mode - I've already run through BILL & TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE, and I've got HIDING OUT ready to go.)

Speaking of $1 finds, I recently came across a beat-up VHS tape of PLAYING FOR KEEPS, and since a DVD release seems unlikely ever to happen, is there any other way to revisit something I enjoyed in seventh grade?

After watching the tape, I wondered how I could have found such an inane, simpleminded movie so appealing. The best part is right at the top - the opening credits, with Townshend's spirited "Life to Life" starting things off. Or, at least the beginning was joyful in another time; the credits are interspersed with images of New York City, including a tinted, fractured photo-negative of the World Trade Center. The movie now, at least to me, starts off on a melancholy note, but the montage is fairly brief, and unrelated to the main story.

Most of the movie is set in some generic, podunk New England burg, where it's Conservative Establishment vs. Idealistic Youth as our heroes plan to change a dilapidated hotel into a rock and roll manor (the reason that a large hotel was first built in such a remote location with no visible amenities in its vicinity is never given). Thinking this premise is somehow simultaneously predictable, stock, unlikely and implausible is letting the screenwriters off easy. I guess it goes without saying that this hotel turns out to be supremely gaudy and not the least bit cool; the production reeks of early MTV - it's replete with garish neon, acid wash denim, musical montages, and "Thriller"-era choreography, including break dancing.

The credits are really the only part of PLAYING FOR KEEPS that doesn't make me gag now. The movie itself is unrelentingly shoddy and drowning in clichés, occasionally surfacing for inept acting and astonishingly lamebrained dialogue. (And the obligatory invocation of the movie's title couldn't have possibly been delivered with more agonizing ham-handedness.) No wonder that the cast, with one notable exception, continues to toil in obscurity.

That exception is, of course, Marisa Tomei. PLAYING FOR KEEPS will be invaluable for the future Friar's Club Roast in her honor. I doubt even her biggest fans are aware of this movie, for which she must be grateful. PLAYING FOR KEEPS also the answer to a fine trivia question; how many people would know that this is the only directorial effort by Bob Weinstein? Miramax should package the DVD with director's commentary. I'd love to hear what co-writers & directors Bob and Harvey Weinstein have to say about this skeleton, and surely most of the cast could take some time off from their oh-so-busy schedules to record a separate cast track.

Now that I've come clean about PLAYING FOR KEEPS, I should go ahead and disown other cinematic indiscretions from my youth. I better start rumaging through the bargain bins for used VHS tapes of RAD and MILLION DOLLAR MYSTERY to expunge any lingering fondness for those equally banal movies.

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