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Post Column: Holiday movie season light on sports

I’ve always held the theory that forms of entertainment such as sports and movies are big attractions during the holiday season because people are sick of having their families around and will do anything to shut them up for a couple of hours, hence the popularity of televised sporting events and Hollywood blockbusters around December.

For those of you who wish to combine those two types of entertainment, here is a quick look at winter’s offering of sports-themed movies that you can soon see in theaters. If you want, you can even take your family with you.

First up is Silver Linings Playbook, a Thanksgiving release that looks like a romantic comedy but smells like a drama, starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. It’s not directly related to sports, but the word “playbook” is in the title, about half the cast wears Philadelphia Eagles jerseys, and the climax hinges on the outcome of a football game and a dance competition.

Plus: Despite the fact that Bradley Cooper is in it, it actually looks pretty good. Limited-release box-office numbers have been promising, the reviews so far are positive and a few bold bloggers have even placed it at the forefront of the Oscar race for Best Picture. Score one for sports fans!

A back-up plan for Playbook is a more straightforward romantic comedy called Playing for Keeps, which features Jessica Biel wearing sensible-mom clothes and Gerard Butler wearing athletic shorts and Hugh Grant hair.

Butler, whose agent has apparently not yet told him to stop doing these kinds of movies, plays a former star footballer from Scotland who starts coaching his kid’s soccer team in an attempt to stabilize his life and win his ex-wife back. It looks horrendous, but it’s got cute little kids in it and at one point one of them says the word “wanker.”

If you want to see a cute little kid say “wanker,” go see Playing For Keeps when it comes out Dec. 7. Uma Thurman and Catherine Zeta-Jones are also in this movie, although I think only for the purpose of making the trailer look more interesting.

A back-up plan to that back-up plan is Lay the Favorite, a comedy about a cocktail waitress (Rebecca Hall) who starts working with a bookie (Bruce Willis) in Las Vegas betting on sporting events to make extra cash. I would tell you more about this movie but I read three different synopses on three different websites and each had three completely different plots, so there’s no way this movie is well put-together or decent in any sense of the word.

Also, every website I’ve checked lists Vince Vaughn in a starring role but he’s not in any of the trailers or on any of the posters, so I think it’s a conspiracy. Catherine Zeta-Jones is also in this movie, although I think for the same reason she’s in the previous movie.

Lay the Favorite also comes out Dec. 7 but if for some unfathomable reason you can’t wait until then, it’s available to watch ahead of the release date on Amazon Instant Video and iTunes, which is never a good sign.

In conclusion, there’s no Moneyball or Million Dollar Baby carrying the flag for the sports-movie genre this year, unless you believe the hype about Playbook, which isn’t really a sports movie, or you were among the 55 percent of Rotten Tomatoes critics who enjoyed Trouble With the Curve.

Other upcoming movies to consider adding to your list include Django Unchained, if you consider bounty hunting a sport, which Quentin Tarantino probably does, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, if you consider walking through forests a sport, which Bilbo Baggins probably does.

Haylee Pearl is a sophomore studying journalism, a novice sports viewer and a copy editor for The Post. Which sports or non-sports movies are you looking forward to seeing this year? Let her know at

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