"Players" is a snappy hook-up comedy that's hard to hate

Players (2024)

When you get right down to it, "Players" is a romantic comedy about scheming liars — not unlike "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" or "Failure to Launch." When taken as a lightly entertaining heist movie, it actually gets away with us not hating these players, even if their games are borderline sociopathic. Making a difference is that first-time writer Whit Andersen and director Trish Sie ("Sitting in Bars with Cake") are blessed with the appealing likes of Gina Rodriguez, Damon Wayans Jr., Augustus Prew, Joel Courtney, and Liza Koshy. 

Rodriguez is so magnetic and charismatic as ever in playing Mack, a thirtysomething New York sportswriter at a dying newspaper, The Brooklyn Ace. When she isn’t covering ping pong and turtle racing, she masterminds “plays” to scheme her way into bed with people she meets in bars. Mack doesn’t do this alone but with longtime colleague/friend Adam (Wayans Jr.), the paper’s visuals editor, as well as bisexual obituarist Brannagan (Prew) and his unemployed little brother Ryan (Courtney), whom they all call “Little.” Mack is the first to realize that she’s tired of all of the one-night stands and may actually want a mature relationship with another adult. Enter hot eligible bachelor Nick Russel (Tom Ellis), a reputable reporter and Pulitzer Prize finalist who’s working on his new book and happens to know Mack, Adam, and Brannagan’s boss. Can Mack parlay a hookup with Nick into something more?

On the page, no one would seem like a catch. It’s even surprising that these guys do find time to sometimes talk about more than just the mechanics of dating. For characters who spend their free time devising games to sleep with other people, it helps that these players are played by innately likable actors who make good company. Besides Gina Rodriguez being the definition of effervescence, Damon Wayans Jr. is a charmer, and Augustus Prew and Joel Courtney are amusing in rounding out the gregarious friend group. Social-media personality turned actress Liza Koshy is also a ball of energy as Ashley, a secretary at the paper who becomes a cog in Mack’s plays. Even though her live-wire character only really serves Mack and company, Koshy commits to every bit, showcasing her facially expressive shtick and knack for physical comedy. Read the full review at GuyAtTheMovies.com

Grade: B -

Netflix released "Players" (105 min.) on February 14, 2024.