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Players review - Gina Rodriguez, Damon Wayans Jr., Tom Ellis' rom-com plays it safe with predictable tropes

The Netflix film, directed by Trish Sie, sticks to the same old romantic comedy playbook.

Players review - Gina Rodriguez, Damon Wayans Jr., Tom Ellis' rom-com plays it safe with predictable tropes
Gina Rodriguez and Damon Wayans Jr. in a still from Players

Last Updated: 04.18 PM, Feb 14, 2024

Players Story:

With the help of her best friend Adam (Damon Wayans Jr.) and their crew, Gina Rodriguez plays the role of New York journalist Mack, who has spent years coming up with great hookup moves. You can't create a relationship from a play, chief among the rigorous ground rules that come with following their playbook—even though it has led to innumerable one-night relationships over the years. Mack reevaluates her strategy when Nick, a lovely war correspondent played by Tom Ellis, unexpectedly becomes the object of her affection. As Mack's boundaries between work, play, friendship, and romance start to melt, she will have to figure out how to go from scoring to playing for keeps.

Players Review:

In Bollywood, "Pyaar Dosti Hai" is a concept that has been immortalised for more than 25 years now. From Kuch Kuch Hota Hai to Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na, Bollywood films have depicted two best friends attempting to play matchmaker for each other, only to discover their own romantic connection. Players is a romantic comedy film that upgrades this genre by showing adults in their 30s teaming up and writing a playbook on hook-up culture and succeeding in it over the years.


Directed by Trish Sie, the film explores the friendship among working professionals who are also in their prime. The film shows the typical New York set-up where a group of friends work the whole day only to crash at their favourite bar in the evening to hop on to the one-night stands. Players offers nothing but predictability, and with the template, it's a done deal.

The leading characters' (Gina Rodriguez, Damon Wayans Jr., Joel Courtney, and Augustus Prew) rhythm and friendship are the Players' strongest points. Their crude jokes sound natural to a group of individuals who've known each other for too long, and the pace is just right. As the four of them wander around New York doing typical New York things (such as eating brunch, taking shots, and gawking at attractive strangers), it's entertaining to watch, especially because Wayans and Rodriguez have scene-stealing chemistry. But it's a shame that this ensemble doesn't have the peculiarly observed details that make this romantic comedy shine.

Gina, as Mack, embodies a unique kind of hot mess that sets her apart from typical gals. However, the whole cool girl/hot mess act becomes repetitive and uninteresting. It has always seemed a bit reductionist to make a character's entire personality hinge on their love of sports, beer, and sex, even if there are plenty of women who fit that description.


Moreover, with the exception of Mack, every character lacks depth. We focus on Adam's puppy-dog eyes and caring behaviour towards her from the very beginning: he walks her to the subway, she confides in him about her food (falafel) when she's sad, he encourages her in her career, and he offers her a shoulder to cry on when the score unbearably lifts her sorrow over beloved memories. Despite the clear connection between these two from the start, this element is overworked.

Gina brings a lot to the table with her fiery charisma and confidence, but she makes a few blunders when she tries too hard. Well, we've seen better of her in many movies and series, particularly Jane the Virgin. Even if Damon's character isn't all poker face when it comes to the story, he has shown promise as a leading man in this genre. About time, right? After New Girl, especially! Tom lacks the narcissistic smarmy qualities required for the role, which was exploding every minute in his titular role in Lucifer (Oh, I miss that charm a lot!). Despite his flaws, he is an average-looking guy and the sole character who refrains from engaging in juvenile antics.

But what makes Players get a minimal win is that, in the end, it is due to the genuine concern the individuals in the film have for each other. The plot moves along swiftly thanks to a few funny lines, but it's really more about the love between friends than it is about any relationship. 

Players Verdict:

Players fails miserably at following the rom-com formula, despite the fact that the film features a strong ensemble cast and provides some amusing moments. The film is more of a friendly competition than a romantic comedy championship game due to its predictable rhythms and recurrent themes.


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