Fall in Love or Fall Apart?: Our Review of ‘Players’ (2024) on Netflix

Posted in What's Streaming? by - February 13, 2024
Fall in Love or Fall Apart?: Our Review of ‘Players’ (2024) on Netflix

Mackenzie ‘Mack’ Cannon (Gina Rodriguez) hangs out with her best friend and ex Adam or ‘Ads’ (Damon Wayans Jr.). They’re in a pool hall after a day’s work for their paper The Brooklyn Ace. I am someone who did some work at a real national paper. I did not know that brick and mortar offices still existed for borough papers.

Trish Sie’s Players makes me wish I had friends. Anyway, Mack and Ads are looking at their mutual friend Brannegan (Agustus Prew). That’s because Bran is trying to impress Nick Russell (Tom Ellis). Nick is a Hondros-esque war correspondent who is their paper’s new hire.

In a way, they’re all trying to impress him, Mack wanting the Nick seal of approval. The three of them have other people in their crew including Ryan or ‘Little’ (Joel Courtney) and Ashley (Liza Koshy), who normally run ‘plays’ to get each other to hook up with some bar randoms.

Mack wants the titular characters in Players to run one on Nick but to have him for keeps. But things get in the way of that play, including Adam’s new girlfriend Claire (Ego Nwodim). Or that Adam’s in love with Mack, and maybe the fact that Mack and Nick aren’t the best fits for each other.

This is a film with a lot of clutter, with pieces that optimistic viewers usually hope fall into place. They do here, but there’s always that danger of one thing making the film fall apart again.

Players doesn’t fall apart yet during its climactic moment when Adam and Brannigan rest after sneaking Mack into a date with Nick. What almost saves films like this is how it treats some of its supporting characters. That climactic scene shows that someone in the film has a life beyond doing Mack’s bidding.

That someone is Adam who, despite having his adult moments, still gives Mack the support that she’s oblivious to. But all of us have seen many films that have many characters and make them feel like their little pieces are enough as part of the whole.

A character in Players who deserves justice is Claire, who deserves better than playing the jilted sixth wheel who may peace out by the film’s end. Speaking of Claire, the film does not know how to light her or any of the other Black cast members. Another character who deserves better is the players’ boss Kirk (Marin Hinkle), and it’s weird that they’re introducing her in the third act.

Players feels like it lets its pieces scatter, then pulls those pieces back together, and it feels like that happens twice here. The film tries to pull its focus back on its love triangle. But it feels like it’s doing it too late. Screenwriter Whit Anderson tries to do exactly that during its denouement. That’s when Mack and Nick have an argument that may break their relationship.

That argument reminds me of the big conflict in You Hurt My Feelings, where the protagonist finds that her husband dislikes her writing. Team Mack, but in fairness to Nick, I also dislike everyone else’s writing. Watching this makes me wish I was watching Feelings instead though.

Watch Players on Netflix, if you dare.

This post was written by
While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
Comments are closed.
(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,'script','//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js','ga'); ga('create', 'UA-61364310-1', 'auto'); ga('send', 'pageview');