Players 2024 review: Overplayed plot saved by a wholesome group of friends

By Fariha Bhatti

|

Feb 19, 2024

Reading time: 2 min

Players is an old wine in a new bottle, but it also proves that the “friends to enemies” trope is a gift that keeps on giving when packaged with well-timed jokes and a wholesome group of friends.

The Gina Rodreguez starrer sets the tone for cheesy “friends who are secretly in love but don’t know yet” from the get-go. The movie starts with three friends working together at the same magazine, sharing drinks at a bar every night, and navigating through the nightmare that the adult dating space is. Except, it’s pretty easy for the three Players to get laid, thanks to their well-executed plays to lure in a date.

All is well until Mackenzie, played by Gina, comes across Nick (Tom Ellis), the good-looking adult with several accolades and matching china. With the help of her friends Adam (Damon Wayans Jr.) and Brannagan (Augusts Prew), Mack gets Adam’s attention with a one-night stand so good she wants off the dating market.

Players review

So, with Adam, Brannagan, and his little brother on board, Mack comes up with the foolproof plan straight out of every rom-com playbook in existence: the classic stakeout.

This is where the played-out friends-to-lovers trope comes into play. Adam, who went all out to help Mack get the man of her dreams, knows exactly why and when she eats a falafel. Sure, he’s not exactly wearing his heart on his sleeve, and it’s probably because, just like our main character, he isn’t entirely sure about how he really feels towards Mack. The old friends are clearly in love, and their entire group knows it, except for the two.

The run-of-the-mill plot would have flopped terribly even for the sloppiest rom-com fans. Still, the humor and bond between the group carries the second half of the movie as Mack pulls off play after play to secure a drawer in Nick’s home, which was the main goal before mission get-Mack-a-second-date took off.

Unsurprisingly, with the help of office secretary Ashley (Liza Koshy), the squad is successful in its mission, but predictably, Mack doesn’t think Nick is the right guy for her.

From here on out, anyone could have guessed the ending and pressed skip on the Netflix window, but I didn’t. Players had great jokes and light-hearted banter between Brannagan and his little brother, played by Joel Courtney, who’s actually called “Little” in the movie. Liza Koshy’s spot-on facial expressions and chemistry with Little were a fresh breath of air.

Mack, however, overshadowed the entire cast. At 33 years old, she has her priorities straight, a job that she could lose at any minute of the day, a too-small circle of friends, and an appreciation for fancy kitchenware. Simply, Mack is a relatable, flawed character, and it was a treat to watch Gina pull it off with flawless perfection.

Overall, the movie wasn’t anything special, and writers could have definitely put more effort into making it less cliche, but who knows, maybe it was intentionally basic.

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