Mark Brown, writer-director of the new film “Two Can Play That Game” has only one other feature film writing credit, and that is 1997″s “Def Jam”s How to Be a Player.”
This time around Mr. Brown takes the female perspective through Shante Smith (Vivica A. Fox, “Soul Food”). Now the subject is no longer men playing women, but women taming men.
Apparently, there are certain rules for dating and games to be played if your man, in this case Keith (Morris Chestnut, to be remembered forever as Ricky in “Boyz N the Hood”) proves to not be the perfect, monogamous man you think he is.
Not only is Shante a very successful and beautiful advertising executive, she is also something like a Yoda of information on how to handle your man. She supplies constant advice to her three best friends, and also opens herself up to us, the audience, talking directly to the camera throughout the film.
So when her situation backfires and she is the one with man trouble, she resorts to the “Ten Day Plan” to getting your man back.
But Shante is not the only one playing games, as the title indicates. While Keith regrets his momentary lapse in being faithful, he is still being coached by best friend Tony (Anthony Anderson, Me, Myself & Irene”) on how to handle every situation Shante throws at him. If she won”t take your calls, then go over to her place looking not only like Denzel, but better than Denzel.
While Fox and Chestnut make one of the most beautiful couples seen on screen in recent memory, the very familiar tale of the battle of the sexes, with a conclusion that is sure to shock no one, does not succeed in the end.
This is not to say that the entire film is a wasted effort. Anderson once again shines as the comedic backbone of the film he is turning into a wonderful addition to every film he joins, almost making films like this and “Romeo Must Die” worthwhile.
Also, the sight of Bobby Brown with crooked teeth and a jerry-curl is certainly not to be forgotten anytime soon in my memory banks.
“Two Can Play That Game” is a mixture of “Waiting to Exhale” and “Booty Call,” but it sadly never finds a happy medium. It is also filled with annoying endorsements for certain companies that are not just subtlety slipped in but are thrust into the way of the camera and the plot (if I hear the letters M, G or D one more time, I”m going to have to go out and get myself a fake ID.)
The film simply falls flat because girlfriends laughing and dancing for half the movie does not count as imaginative and engaging material to most audiences.
Sure, there are people out there who will relate and laugh with them, but a few bright, funny observations about dating does not make a film.
We have seen this movie before and we have seen it done better with something new and original thrown in. The romantic comedy is a tired genre that fills screens across the nation but never really achieves any artistic significance.