Cocktail Recipes, Spirits, and Local Bars

Jessica Biel Drinks Scotch in a Teacup and More Celebrity News

Jessica Biel Drinks Scotch in a Teacup and More Celebrity News

See where your favorite stars were out and and about this week.

Restaurant Buzz

The Hangover saga's famed trio Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis dined at McCormick & Schmick’s in Manhattan's Midtown neighborhood. [NY Post]

The stars were out to celebrate restaurateur Will Malnati’s birthday at his New York City restaurant, Willow Road. A-listers in attendance were Emma Roberts, Jessica Stam, Chace Crawford, Mark Sanchez, and Ashley Greene. [NY Post]

Anne Hathaway and husband Adam Shulman headed to the new Forager's Market in Brooklyn and picked up two green juices. [People]

David Beckham rang in his 38th birthday with wife Victoria and their kids at famed Paris restaurant Chez L'Ami, where the group enjoyed the restaurant's signature chicken dish and berries, and sang happy birthday to Beckham with the help of the staff. [US]

Rihanna sipped a cocktail and danced the night away with the New York Knicks' J.R. Smith at Greenhouse in Manhattan. [US]

Joe Jonas snacked on sliders while watching a game at New York City's Ainsworth. [NY Post]

Seen & Heard

Jessica Biel drank scotch in a teacup while getting ready for the Met Ball. [Who Say/Jessica Biel]

Nikki Reed got a little carried away at a chocolate shop. [WhoSay/NikkiReed]

Keira Knightley and new husband James Righton sipped rose wine alfresco while honeymooning in Corsica. [People]

Kate Hudson, fiance Matt Bellamy, and her dad Kurt Russell spent the day at a Santa Barbara, Calif., winery for a tasting. [Just Jared]

ASshley Benson marked the second day of her juice cleanse with a smile. [Instagram/ItsAshBenzo]

Sofia Vergara indulged in a "big Chinese shrimp during her trip to the country, visited sushi genius Jiro, and had a Japanese feast. [WhoSay/SofiaVergara]

En route from their New York City hotel to JFK Airport to head back home to Los Angeles, Kristen Stewart and beau Robert Pattinson grabbed a few slices of pizza. [Popsugar]


Emeril's Foundation Just Auctioned Off the Most Expensive Bottle of Wine Ever

The most expensive wine to ever be auctioned off was scooped up earlier this month for a whopping $350,000. It wasn't a varietal bottled by George Washington himself, or a blend made from a mash of grapes grown by Marilyn Monroe. It was a 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon made by a celebrity winemaker for a celebrity talent manager.

The 2015 Setting Wines Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon was created by Jesse Katz, who in 2010 became the youngest head winemaker in the country. Now, he counts Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel and Von Miller as customers of his California vineyard, Devil Proof. The wine was created for Shep Gordon, who has managed Emeril Lagasse, Wolfgang Puck, Blondie, and Pink Floyd, among many more. So yeah, it's a rare one. Gordon donated the wine to Emeril's annual charity wine auction, making it the only bottle available for sale. The enormous amount of money from the sale went to funding youth education organizations.

"The Setting breaks record for most expensive single bottle ever sold at auction at $350,000! The money went to a great cause! The Emeril Lagasse Foundation," Gordon wrote on Instagram to celebrate the coup. The new owner of the bottle? A Mississippi wine collector, who pooled his money with friends. They likely will not be uncorking it anytime soon.


20 Lady Gaga

Did you know that Lady Gaga’s parents own a restaurant in New York? And like a true foodie, Gaga blames a recent health deviation on the amazing pizza that her Dad serves up. Besides having a weakness for great pizza, Lady Gaga also enjoys many of the other dishes that are part of her heritage, such as pasta and pannacotta! According to a private chef, Gaga can also cook a mean pasta if she feels like it!

According to Gagapedia, Lady Gaga also has a thing for peach cobbler and gummy candy. We also know that she dreams of cheeseburgers.


Ayesha Curry gives her horchata brownies a kick by adding rum.

The ultra-moist brownies are filled with almonds and chocolate and coated with a delicious horchata glaze. If you're looking for a chocolate treat with a twist, this recipe is perfect.

If you like it, you can find more of Curry's recipes in her cookbook "The Seasoned Life: Food, Family, Faith, and the Joy of Eating Well." She also hosted Food Network's show called "Ayesha's Home Kitchen."

View the recipe here.


Justin Eats In, Vanessa Busts Out

Timbaland's top troubadour Justin Timberlake retreated to his (new) New York restaurant Southern Hospitality after his concert last night in nearby New Jersey. The future head chef was without smokin' hot ladylove Jessica Biel, who's been learning how to get all stripperific for her upcoming movie "Powder Blue."

Play video content

Butter was -- as ever -- Monday night's hotspot as Oscar winner-turned-flopmeister Cuba Gooding Jr. showed up just in time to give a flower peddler the last of his greenbacks from "Jerry Maguire." Also at Butter we found Nick Lachey with his va-va-voyeuriste Vanessa Minnillo, songboy James Blunt and a hat-obscured P. Diddy.

In Malibu, Carmen Electra took a break from yesterday's flesh-flashing photo shoot to hang out on the Polaroid House balcony with a teacup puppy. Grrrrrrr, baby!

The "Superbad" premiere brought the bacon to Los Angeles club Teddy's as Beerfest's Jay Chandrasekhar tells our camera he's been busy -- drinkin'! Now that's committing to a role! Also in tow was "Number's" David Krumholtz -- who gives a fan his "drunken" John Hancock -- and "Dawson's Creek" actress Busy Philipps.

Taryn Manning, whose personal wardrobe is still taking cues from her role in "Hustle and Flow," gives her saucy support for Barack Obama before (clear) high heeling it into Joseph's.


Justin Timberlake Cuddles Wife Jessica Biel in Rare Photo Together

Justin Timberlake puts his arm around Jessica Biel in this rare social media photo of them together during their downtime together in New Zealand.

The 33-year-old entertainer is in the area performing on his 20/20 Experience World tour and his 32-year-old wife joined him for this leg of the tour to take in the gorgeous sights.

“‘Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.’ –Ferris” Justin captioned the pic on his Instagram. He also posted a few others of him taking in the amazing views – check them out below!

FYI: Justin is wearing a Scotch & Soda sweatshirt.


Motherhood Quotes from the Pages of ELLE

"I still don't know how she did it. She always protected us&mdashshe would never let us know when we had problems, even financially. I still got to go and get a perm every four weeks." &mdashRihanna

"My mother used to dress rather risqué when I was a kid, and that sort of shocked me. I always thought moms were supposed to wear cardigans and flats, but she was in leather bracelets and minidresses. In hindsight, I thought it was pretty cool, but I'm probably more conservative because of it." &mdashDrew Barrymore

"My mom was [a hippie]. We weren't allowed sugar cereal. We weren't allowed processed foods&mdashexcept Van de Kamp's fish sticks. We never locked the front door." &ndashJessica Biel

"I have an amazing mother who's a real tough cookie. She taught me not to get emotional about [sexism in Hollywood], just be really practical and objective. Later, in the privacy of my own home, maybe I'll bawl or break some dishes, but you just have to keep going. It's not about fighting, it's about educating." &mdashZoe Saldana

"My mom and I are like sisters. We kind of grew up together. She always treated me as an adult. I never had curfew. She's a workaholic, like I am. We're not super family-oriented people, you know?" &mdashKelly Clarkson

Asked what actress she most admires: "I wouldn't be honest if I didn't say my mom. Apart from the fact that she's my mother, she's a brilliant comedian and a force as a producer. She paved the way for women to produce and star in their own films, and to balance that with being the matriarch of our family is really inspiring." &mdashKate Hudson

"My mom told me, `don't grow up too quickly once you're an adult, you're an adult.'" &ndashCamilla Belle

"I don't think of myself as a terribly confident person. But I have a survival mechanism that was instilled in me by my mother." &mdashNaomi Watts

"I remember being seven and asking my mom if I was as pretty as Monique [my best friend in grade school]. And with all the love in the world, my mom looked at me and said, "Oh, honey, you're so funny.' So, she doesn't lie to me. she answers the question by not answering and instead tells me what she thinks is my greatest strength." &mdashJennifer Aniston

"You leak sometimes. My pediatrician said, `Can't you just wear pads under your clothes?' I said, `You don't know the kind of clothes I wear on photo shoots.'" &mdashCindy Crawford

"Giving up my scotch? My Macallan 18? That was hard for me! Though now that doesn't even sound good, being pregnant. You crave other things. A big thing of water sounds great!" &mdashJessica Simpson

"My mom said giving birth was the most excruciating thing she's ever gone through in her life. So. if [a cesarean] doesn't happen, I'll be like, `Epidural, please!' Hopefully my athletic abilities will take over." &mdashBritney Spears

"I like my body so much better after I had kids. Is that a crazy thing to say? I'm more womanly. I feel sexier." &mdashReese Witherspoon

On having children with cinematographer Danny Moder (twins Phinnaeus and Hazel and their youngest, Henry): "How lucky we are that we love each other so much that we burst into three pieces." &mdashJulia Roberts

"Kingston is so chill. He goes with me everywhere. He's been to every studio in L.A., New York, London. He lives up to his name&mdashtotal Rasta boy. He gives me a real balance. You can go 100 miles an hour, but you still have to stop to hang out with him." &mdashGwen Stefani

On Suri's fashion sense: "She'll really tell me [what she thinks]. Like today I'm wearing brown suede pants, and she said, `I don't like your pants.' But then she'll say, `You've got to wear these shoes.' Or `That's so pretty, Mom. Wear that.' She's got a great eye." &mdashKatie Holmes

"[My boys] bloody well will work. Same as myself, same as David. They're not going to be the kinds of kids that just hang about. I want them to be able to fulfill their passions, but I think it's important that the children grow up and have respect for themselves." &mdashVictoria Beckham

"James Wilkie is so conscious of the time we spend together. I try to be home to tuck him in at least four nights a week, and if I'm not, he's not letting me get away with anything. The other night I was sitting with him on the steps before Matthew and I went out to the theater, and he looked at me and said, `Mama, this has got to stop. Go upstairs and take that dress off.'" &mdashSarah Jessica Parker

On welcoming her first daughter Sunday with husband Keith Urban: "At 41, it's a more painful love. I look at that little girl, and I'm like, Oh, no, what's going to happen? It's almost like my heart is stretching I'm feeling all these muscles stretch with emotion. It's a beautiful love but there's a lot of fear and pain for her life, and for Bella's and Connor's life. I like to believe that nothing was stopping Sunday from coming into the world." &mdashNicole Kidman

"The time I'm not spending with my kid has to be worth it." &mdashJessica Alba

"It's really hard to find things that are worth leaving them for. [Balancing work and motherhood is] really hard. One night in Nashville, my son was screaming with a terrible stomachache. I was like, 'I have to get out of here!' but we had to finish. My friend Jenno, a mother of three who was producing, was great, reminding me that nine times out of 10, they just have gas." &mdashGwyneth Paltrow

"[After the twins' birth,] I spent two years doing nothing. I was a wife and a mom. But you need that time to grow. You can't be afraid of, `Oh, I'm out of the public, then I'm going to have to make a comeback.' It's ridiculous. No." &mdashJ.Lo

"I hadn't been onstage in a while. The last time was pre-children. And before I went on [at Roseland], my kids were backstage, and I thought, This isn't how I usually do it. I've got kids, and I'm thinking, This is weird. It's weird juggling children on your knee while you're in your rhinestone outfit. And I'm thinking, Okay, I'm gonna go out and do a show and I'm gonna be Superwoman! But I'm not really, `cause I'm a mom. It's all very strange." &mdashMadonna

On dedicating his No Country for Old Men Oscar to his mother, Pilar: "[That night] I was sitting by Jack Nicholson with my long list of thanks, and I said, `I'm so nervous. I don't know what to say if I go up there.' He said, `Don't get emotional, drop the names, and dedicate it to your mother.'" &mdashJavier Bardem

ELLE: What did you do that broke your mom's heart most?

Ty Burrell: When I was 10 or so, I told her, "I don't think you love me unconditionally." I had no idea what the term meant. She was really hurt at first, but then she was just pissed off, like, "Fuck that! That's ridiculous. I didn't change your diapers and all that shit if I didn't love you unconditionally. Get out of here."

"My mother went to Radcliffe, and rather than just trying to get rich, she wanted to be a teacher and taught for over 30 years in the public schools. She's definitely got some war stories." &mdashBen Affleck

"She was this incredible mom. With each of her kids, she did something called `time,' where she would spend an hour each day doing whatever the kid wanted to do, whether it was play spacemen or `Let's go into your makeup, and I'll make you up like a clown.' And as a teenager you'd be like, `Rub me, Mom. Give me a massage.'" &mdashJeff Bridges

Jason Segel: The first time my mom found condoms in my room, she literally started crying hysterically.

ELLE: I also read that your mother, upon seeing your full-frontal nude scene in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, wept.

JS: Actually, it wasn't so much weeping as much as it was an angry stare at me, and her lips started to quiver a little bit. She got up and left the theater, and when she came back, she had clearly been crying. I thought it would be a funny joke not to tell her beforehand that I'd done full-frontal nudity. Apparently it wasn't.

ELLE: Is she an easy crier?

JS: She was always very emotional about her son growing up. I remember she also burst into tears when she accidentally walked in on me taking a bath and saw that I had pubic hair.

Sean (Diddy) Combs: [My mother] taught the lesson about sacrificing for your kids, but also that if your kids hit it big, they better make it up to you for those years. She's gotten her sacrifices back with interest.

ELLE: What's the most extravagant gift you've given your mom?

SC: The house she's in now.

ELLE: So you bought her, what, a nice split-level with an attached garage?

SC: Nah, nah, nah. We're talking about something behind some gates. Like I said, she's making up for it.

ELLE: You've never met your father. Do you feel like you missed out on anything?


Justin Timberlake Apologizes To Britney Spears, Wife Jessica Biel Says “I Love You”

Justin Timberlake Apologizes To Britney Spears On Social Media ( Photo Credit – Getty images / Britney Spears / Jessica Biel Instagram / Justin Timberlake )

Framing Britney Spears released last week, and since then there has been a lot spoken on social media about her life, conservatorship and pass relationships. One of the names receiving major flax by Britney’s fans is Justin Timberlake. The singer faced criticism from netizens for how he handled his relationship with ex-girlfriend Britney Spears. The former ‘N Sync member has now issued an apology.

For those who do not know, the documentary shed light on Timberlake and Spears’ breakup and his subsequent music video, Cry Me a River. This video starred a Britney look-alike and implied that she had cheated on him. It also included the audio of a radio interview wherein he bragged about having sex with Spears.

Amidst this social media uproar, Justin Timberlake took to Instagram on Friday (February 12) and acknowledged some of his mistakes. He posted an apology statement to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson, that read, “I’ve seen the messages, tags, comments and concerns and I want to respond. I am deeply sorry for the time in my life where my actions contributed to the problem, where I spoke out of turn, or did not speak up for what was right. I understand that I fell short in these moments and in many others and benefited from a system that condones misogyny and racism.”

Trending

Justin Timberlake continued,” “I specifically want to apologize to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson both individually, because I care for and respect these women, and I know I failed.” He added, “I also feel compelled to respond, in part, because everyone involved deserves better and most importantly because this is a larger conversation that I wholeheartedly want to be part of and grow from.”

Talking about his Timberlake’s apology to Janet Jackson, Justin ripped off part of Janet’s top during a performance together at the 2004 Super Bowl, accidentally exposing one of her n*pple. Both singers apologized over the incident, with Timberlake regarding it as a ‘wardrobe malfunction’ and Jackson’s rep said it was ‘intentional’. CBS executives still blamed Jackson for the incident, and it threatened to derail her career, as MTV and U.S. radios reportedly blacklisted her music videos for some time.

Justin Timberlake’s statement further read, “The industry is flawed. It sets men, especially white men, up for success. It’s designed this way. As a man in a privileged position, I have to be vocal about this. Because of my ignorance, I didn’t recognize it for all that it was while it was happening in my own life but I do not want to ever benefit from others being pulled down again.”

Timberlake continued, “I have not been perfect in navigating all of this throughout my career. I know this apology is the first step and doesn’t absolve the past. I want to take accountability for my own missteps in all of this as well as be part of a world that uplifts and supports. I care deeply about the wellbeing of the people I love and have loved. I can do better and I will do better.”

The singer has received many responses including one from, Jessica Biel. Biel, who married Timberlake in 2012 and shares two sons with him, commented on his post “I love you. (heart emoji).”


Star Sightings: Tiffany Haddish Parties With Issa Rae, Reese Witherspoon Kicks Off Book Tour & More!

Celebrities flocked to Avenue Los Angeles to let loose at Samsung Galaxy&rsquos &ldquoCelebrating the Culture&rdquo post-Emmy&rsquos bash in Los Angeles, California, on Sunday. Host of the night, Issa Rae, showed up with first-time Emmy winner Tiffany Haddish, after hitting up the star-studded Governors Ball.

Rae&rsquos Insecure castmates Yvonne Orji, Amanda Seales and Kendrick Sampson also came out to show support. This Is Us star Sterling K. Brown was also spotted posing for photos with rapper Wale during the bash. Near the end of the night, Dave Chappelle surprised partygoers by jumping behind the DJ booth and singing along to &ldquoKilling Me Softly.&rdquo

Premium chocolatier Lindt Chocolate proudly made its Emmy Awards debut on Sunday! They transformed the green room into The Lindt Chocolate Lounge, a luxurious backstage sanctuary where Emmy nominees, presenters and special guests were able to relax before going onstage and celebrating.

The lounge was packed all night with celebs including Tina Fey, James Corden, Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake, Kristen Bell, Trevor Noah, Jimmy Kimmel and the cast of Queer Eye. Emmy winner Rachel Brosnahan fielded congrats from Gina Rodriguez, Larry David and Ben Stiller while Darren Criss &mdash who won an Emmy for his leading role on The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story &mdash was congratulated by castmate Ricky Martin. Angela Bassett enjoyed the night with friends including Haddish, Taraji P. Henson and Emmy winner Samira Wiley.

Reese Witherspoon kicked off her Whiskey in a Teacup book tour at the Town Hall Theater in New York City on Sept. 17. The Oscar-winning actress looked adorable while wearing the same Draper James lace dress she sports on the cover, just in a different color. "It&rsquos like my mother always says," Witherspoon shared with the crowd. "If you like something, buy it in a couple of colors."

On Sept. 18, Cuba Gooding Jr. celebrated his return to Chicago on Broadway at The Chatwal in New York City. The Oscar-winning actor will reprise his role of Billy Flynn beginning Oct. 6.

Edgar Ramirez, Ryan Murphy, Penelope Cruz and Darren Criss celebrated their Emmy wins with The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story cast and crew at the Fox networks after-party presented by Dobel Tequila at Vibiana in downtown Los Angeles, California, on Sept. 17.

Portia de Rossi joined RH Chairman and CEO Gary Friedman to help celebrate the Unveiling of RH New York. Other notable guests at the bash included Nicky Hilton, Ryan Seacrest, Martha Stewart, Nina Agdal, Sara and Erin Foster.

Emily Ratajkowski arrived at the grand opening of FOUND Hotel in Chicago, Illinios, presented by The h.wood Group, over the weekend. The model rocked in Jacqemus shoes and earrings to the opening, which she paired with a chic Rose Milk suit.

Post Malone was one of the many performers as the Music Midtown Festival kicked off at Piedmont Park in Atlanta, Georgia, on Sept 15. The festival featured additional performances from Fall Out Boy, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Kacey Musgraves, BØRNS and The Revivalists.

Kehlani was spotted in Las Vegas enjoying Jennifer Lopez's All I Have concert on Sept. 12. The two posed for a photo together backstage after the concert, which took place at Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.

On Sept. 14, the Bachelor&rsquos Lauren Bushnell stepped out as Fashion Island and SIMPLY kicked off StyleWeekOC with a VIP dinner at Fig and Olive in Newport Beach, California. Guests enjoyed a fashion show featuring fall trends, and enjoyed specialty cocktails by Effen vodka.

After throwing out the first pitch and singing &ldquoTake Me Out to the Ballgame&rdquo at Wrigley Field for the Chicago Cubs game on Sept. 12, Kevin Hart stopped by the soon-to-open TAO Chicago where he was treated to a private sneak peek of the new restaurant ahead of its official opening on Monday. The Night School starpreviewed tastingss by Chef Mike Armstrong and was the first person to lay eyes on the sprawling new River North eatery.

Hart arrived straight from the game with members of his team and took over the skybox for a private meal overlooking the brand new dining room. Owners kept the kitchen open specially for the 39-year-old actor, and made sure several TAO specialties hit the table including Crispy Rice Tuna, Cantonese Cauliflower, Fried Rice, Chicken Wing Lollipops and Satay of Chilean Sea Bass. Hart even took a few orders of Chicken Wing Lollipops and Satay of Chilean Sea Bass to go before leaving the new TAO outpost.

Katie Holmes stepped aboard the alice + olivia Fashion Yacht powered by Booking.com as Stacey Bendet showcased the Spring &lsquo19 collection, &ldquoPassport to Wonderland,&rdquo at Pier59 Studios during New York Fashion Week.

Teyana Taylor attended NYLON's 2018 Rebel Fashion Party at Rose Bar at The Gramercy Park Hotel in New York City.

Real Housewives of Dallas star Kameron Westcott attended KP Groom&rsquos opening party in Dallas Texas, where in addition to grooming, they sell SparkleDog. At the event, guests enjoyed a curation of art from HG Contemporary and sipped on cocktails from Tequila Ciudad and Illegal Mezcal.

Rae Sremmurd performed a 10-song set at Slate in New York City after opening for Childish Gambino&rsquos This Is America tour stop at Madison Square Garden on Sept. 14.

Queer Eye stars Tan France and Antoni Porowski teamed up with Excedrin to help launch the brand&rsquos Commuter, Bad Date and Adulting Limited Editions in New York City.

On Sept. 13, celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis hosted dinner in New York City, as part of her partnership with Lagostina for the Sunday Dinner campaign and the launch of their 4 Qt. Signature Dutch Oven.

Rosario Dawson was spotted looking comfy wearing California footwear brand Sanuk&rsquos new boot, the Puff 'N Chill backstage at her Studio 189 show during New York Fashion Week.

Olivia Culpo stepped out in New York City wearing a custom 100% DKNY T-shirt from the fall 2018 campaign.

Mariah Carey was a vision in black while posing for the cameras in Las Vegas. The singer returned to her headlining residency, The Butterfly Returns, at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, and will perform through Sept. 10. Carey also recently announced five new dates from Feb. 13 through Feb. 21, 2019.

Iconic U.K. Kitchen Appliance Brand RUSSELL HOBBS landed Stateside with actress Kate Beckinsale at Launch Party at NOMO Kitchen in New York City.

Whitney Port was also spotted in New York City with the Mrs. Meyer&rsquos Compassion Flower Hand Soap, aimed to help grow kindness in classrooms.

Teresa Guidice enjoyed some girl time with her bestie, Rosana, at the newest luxury resort to hit Los Cabos, Le Blanc Spa Resort. The Real Housewives of New Jersey star pampered herself at the spa and relaxed poolside.

Director John Waters hosted a weekend away for his fans at Club Getaway in Kent, Connecticut.

Olivia Wilde supported the launch of the Thomas & Friends and United Nations collaboration in New York City on Sept. 9.

On Sept. 7, Geena Davis attended a private dinner hosted by Lyft at Sotto in downtown Toronto, Canada, in honor of the documentary This Changes Everything. The film, which is directed by Tom Donahue, had its world premiere at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival.

Bohemian Rhapsody stars Rami Malek, Gwilym Lee and Joe Mazzello stepped out for a VIP reception at Juniper Cocktail Lounge at Park MGM in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sept. 5. The party was hosted by Houston Hospitality&rsquos Jonnie and Mark Houston, who will open On The Record nightclub, at the resort over New Year&rsquos weekend.


Review: A very unsatisfying ‘Playing for Keeps’

The oddly unsatisfying big-screen career of Gerard Butler takes another unfortunate turn with “Playing for Keeps,” a sexualized romantic comedy built around kids’ soccer. It makes its way into theaters as Butler’s last effort, “Chasing Mavericks,” beats a hasty retreat to home video.

“Keeps” has Butler dialing down his swagger and charisma when the whole movie is utterly reliant on both. As a divorced ex-athlete who needs to grow up and be a father to his kid, this guy should be all testosterone, wallowing in past glory and the sexual conquests that made him a soccer legend, and we’re led to believe, ended his marriage.

But whatever edge George Dryer had in Robbie Fox’s script, Butler has rubbed it off. He’s at his most charming here, pandering to his female fan base. More’s the pity, because that base is shrinking by the hour.

George is a Scot whose playing days are over. Broke and longing for a shot at a TV sportscasting career, he’s moved to northern Virginia, where his ex (Jessica Biel) and their son (Noah Lomax) live.

The kid’s into soccer since, as George notes, “It’s in your blood.” He and his team just need proper coaching, something the cellphone dads of suburban Washington can’t provide. So George takes over.

That’s when the soccer moms come around. Some are single, some aren’t. Barb (the adorable Judy Greer) breaks into tears every time she questions the coach about her son, but she’s not above throwing herself at the guy. Nor is the vivacious manhunter Denise (Catherine Zeta-Jones).

Dennis Quaid is a rich backslapper who uses George’s celebrity to impress clients, but his neglected wife (Uma Thurman) could use a little Scotch — or a big, strapping Scot.

Meanwhile, George is making a heartfelt, sentimental play for his ex-wife, who is about to remarry and isn’t hearing it.

There’s a time-honored tradition of action heroes and leading men reviving their careers with movies filled with kids. Dwayne Johnson (“The Game Plan,” “The Tooth Fairy”) has done it repeatedly. Even Jeff Bridges was reduced to playing a girls’ gymnastics coach in “Stick It,” before winning his Oscar and staging a comeback.

But most of these guys had the good sense not to build those dreams on the guy who wrote “So I Married an Ax Murderer.”

A few performers stand out here, with Greer, Thurman and Quaid landing the laughs. But Gabriele (“Seven Pounds”) Muccino’s direction is an uncomfortable mush of sentimental and sexy.

All those kids on the set, those long game sequences and the star’s determination to play safe and sweet and nice rob “Keeps” of its potential. A swaggering ex-athlete who needs to get over his womanizing isn’t the passive, put-upon sexual patsy that Butler plays here — helpless in the presence of a beautiful woman.

This could have been a saucy “What Women Want,” with just a smattering of soccer. The emphasis on the kids and “the beautiful game” make “Playing for Keeps” a new “Kicking & Screaming,” but without Will Ferrell. And even he wouldn’t want to see that.

No review of “Lay the Favorite” — a new film with Bruce Willis opening this weekend — was available at press time. A review will be posted online at www.mercurynews.com/movies-dvd when one becomes available.

Rating: PG-13 (for language and sexual situations)
Cast: Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Dennis Quaid
Director: Gabriele Muccino
Running time: 1 hour, 46 minutes


Watch the video: Best Friends Challenge with Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel (September 2021).