Players Review: Ironically Safe and Unadventurous

Players (2024).

Players, a romantic comedy helmed by Trish Sie and penned by Whit Anderson, had the potential to score big with its lineup of notable talents such as Gina Rodriguez, Damon Wayans Jr., and Tom Ellis. Unfortunately, despite its all-star cast and a premise that hints at a blend of modern-day love dilemmas and comedic scenarios, Players stumbles more than it strides, making it a forgettable entry in the rom-com genre.

At its heart, Players introduces us to Mack (played by Gina Rodriguez), a spirited New York City sportswriter whose adventurous love life is fueled by a series of hook-up schemes masterminded with her best friend, Adam (portrayed by Damon Wayans Jr.). The dynamic between Mack and Adam is pitched as the core of the movie’s humor and emotional depth. Yet, it falls flat due to lackluster chemistry and a series of gags that miss more often than they hit. When Mack meets Nick (Tom Ellis), a charming war correspondent, the film attempts to navigate the complexity of choosing between fleeting pleasures and the vulnerability of genuine connection. This premise is hardly original, but under the right circumstances, it could have provided fertile ground for both humor and heartfelt moments.

The Bad:

The primary issue with Players is its failure to fully capitalize on its premise and cast. Gina Rodriguez, who has proven her comedic and dramatic chops in projects like Jane the Virgin, feels underutilized here, relegated to acting out a thinly written character whose motivations and growth are as predictable as they are superficial. Tom Ellis, known for his magnetic charm on Lucifer, is given little to do beyond playing the archetypal perfect man, a role that’s as thankless as it is uninteresting. The real disappointment, however, comes from the underdeveloped dynamic between Mack and Adam. Damon Wayans Jr., who can effortlessly steal scenes with his comedic timing, is confined to a character whose relationship with Mack feels more plot-driven than genuinely heartfelt.

The supporting cast, featuring Joel Courtney, Augustus Prew, Liza Koshy, Ego Nwodim, Marin Hinkle, and more, is similarly wasted. In a film about modern relationships and emotional connection, the overall weak portrayal is a major mistake.

Trish Sie seems to struggle with balancing the film’s comedic elements with its attempts at romance and introspection. Scenes intended to elicit laughs often come across as trying too hard. Some moments that should have been poignant or reflective instead feel rushed and unearned. The film neither fully exploits its humorous potential nor thoroughly explores its characters’ emotions. Due to this, the story drags in places where better editing and a more focused screenplay could have energized it.

The Good:

On a more positive note, the film’s production values are commendable. New York City serving as a vibrant backdrop adds a layer of charm to the proceedings. The soundtrack is a highlight, featuring a mix of tracks that succeed in infusing some energy into the film. However, these elements feel like mere dressing on a foundation that’s fundamentally flawed.

The film’s attempt to suggest that love and relationships are more complicated than fairy tales is a redeeming quality. The problem is that Players never digs deep enough into these themes to offer any insightful commentary or novel perspectives. Instead, it opts for a safe, by-the-numbers approach that leaves little lasting impact on the viewer.

Overall:

In the end, Players feels like a missed opportunity. Fans of the actors involved may find some enjoyment in their performances. However, for those seeking a memorable or particularly engaging rom-com experience, Players is unlikely to satisfy.

For a film titled Players, it’s ironic how safe and unadventurous it feels. Players shows that not all rom-coms succeed.┬áIn a crowded field, it simply doesn’t bring enough to the table to distinguish itself or leave a mark.

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  • Acting - 5/10
    5/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 5/10
    5/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 4/10
    4/10
  • Setting/Theme - 3/10
    3/10
  • Watchability - 4/10
    4/10
  • Rewatchability - 2/10
    2/10
Overall
3.8/10
3.8/10
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About Caillou Pettis

Caillou Pettis is a professional film critic and journalist as well as the author of While You Sleep, The Inspiring World of Horror: The Movies That Influenced Generations, and co-author of Out of Time: True Paranormal Encounters. He has been writing in the entertainment industry for over seven and a half years professionally. Throughout the years, he has written articles for publications including Gold Derby, Exclaim!, CBR, Awards Radar, Awards Watch, Flickering Myth, BRWC, Starburst Magazine, Punch Drunk Critics, Mediaversity Reviews, Vinyl Chapters, Northern Transmissions, and Beats Per Minute.