Two Can Play That Game Movie Review

Two Can Play That Game turns love into a brutal battleground of the sexes. It's not about relationships as much as it is about the "rules" they abide by (or don't abide by). A twisted version of Angela Bassett in How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Vivica A. Fox stars as a successful businesswoman named Shante Smith. She's a player, as she explains in the opening scenes, knowing as much as there is to know about the "rules" of love.

Shante has a bunch of friends, and a handsome, charming boyfriend named Keith Fenton (Morris Chestnut), a successful lawyer himself. One night, Shante finds her love dancing with another woman at a nightclub -- and so begins the vicious battles of the sexes. Will the two get back together, or will this be the end of their relationship?

As is obviously intended, Two Can Play That Game is sure to hit big with the African American audience, but it should also be treasured as a great date movie for the moviegoing public at large. It's got the kind of friskiness that makes you exchange glances with the stranger seated next to you because both of you know how many things it gets right about relationships. With as many twists and turns as this romantic comedy takes, you're sure to have a good time.

Still, while the production contains all the correct ingredients, it uses them in the wrong recipe. It hits a humorous bulls-eye with plenty of cultural issues, but it lacks the very substance it's made of: True love. The film, written and directed by Mark Brown, makes a common Hollywood mistake of confusing sexuality with true passion. Not that this destroys the film; in fact, for an R-rated sex comedy, this is very tame material. This production takes risks, but for a movie that concerns itself so much with romance, it just doesn't get any of that across convincingly.

With frequent soliloquies, intrusive narration, and a central character that very much takes center stage, Shante does not just narrate the film, she explains it. Throughout the journey, she speaks directly to the camera. Seldom do filmmakers gamble their success on such an unusual style, but the conceit gives the movie a sense of independence, attitude, and a unique, experimental flavor. Fox's performance keeps energy alive, even when she knows her mouth is running a little too much. It's surprisingly entertaining.

Alas, the film does not really earn its ending. It doesn't persuasively prove the characters' sudden realizations. But who cares? Two Can Play That Game is still light-hearted and fluffy. It exists solely to please the audience, but it also works as a social commentary.

What game is that?


Two Can Play That Game Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: R, 2001


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