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TWO CAN PLAY THAT GAME

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Vivica A. Fox, Anthony Anderson, Wendy Raquel Robinson, Tamala Jones, Bobby Brown, Gabrielle Union, Morris Chestnut
Director: Mark Brown
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1, Standard 1.33:1
Studio: Columbia Tri Star
Features: See Review
Length: 90 Minutes
Release Date: December 26, 2001

Film **1/2

Two Can Play That Game features a much appealing cast of actors, including a beauty of a woman in a sassy, sharp leading performance. Altogether, however, the movie feels like parts thrown together from various different movies of the past, which have covered much similar ground. The theme of the movie is the nasty battle of the sexes, this time told mainly from the woman’s perspective, and the men in the movie are seen strictly as womanizers. I don’t mean to sound sexist in anyway, but I think at least once, Hollywood should consider making a movie that shows the situation from the man’s perspective, on such things as like what it’s like to be a womanizer and successful at playing women. There was How to Be a Player which was something along those lines, but that was just one movie. The storyline in Two Can Play That Game has been played on and played out in much better urban romances such as Love Jones and The Best Man. Of course, the movie that started this whole trend was the dreadful Waiting to Exhale, which Two Can Play That Game exceeds in the quality department, and it does contain a certain level of charm.

The movie’s heroine is Shante, played with fiery energy by Vivica A. Fox, a successful ad executive. She’s currently dating Keith (Morris Chestnut), a fellow businessman who is rumored to be snooping behind her back, looking for additional relations. In addition to dealing with that, Shante has to be there for her female friends, including Karen (Wendy Raquel Robinson) whose just gone through a heart burning breakup with her boyfriend, who when together did nothing but argue. Shante serves as the lecturer and mentor to her friends, offering all the much needed information on the weaknesses of men.

Keith, meanwhile, has in fact hooked up with a rival girl named Conny (Gabrielle Union), and this is where Shante gets her inspiration for a fool proof plan. She presents to Keith a “10 Day Plan”, upon which he has precisely ten days to mend his cheating ways and beg for her forgiveness. Keith, appearing not that much concerned, is advised by work friend Tony (Anthony Anderson) to think twice about the situation he’s getting himself into. Other bits in the movie mostly consists of Karen’s new infatuation with Big Mike (Bobby Brown), who’s appearance is that of the scariest Rick James look alike you could ever picture.

As I mentioned before, the film is headlined by a much talented cast, and is lead by the red hot Vivica A. Fox, a favorite of mine since I saw her in Independence Day, who in this movie displays a undeniable presence in her first leading role. She is quick, witty, and constantly charming the viewer with her snappy insight. Despite that aspect, I still find the movie to be nothing original in terms of story, but the performances are worth taking note of.

Video ***1/2

A mostly glowing presentation is at hand here thanks to the folks at Columbia Tri Star. The anamorphic widescreen presentation is at times striking and perfect with image crispness and clear feedback. Colors are a hundred percent vibrant, as well. The presentation does contain an instance, or two, of slight image softness, but all in all this is a mostly well done transfer, as in the CTS tradition. Full frame version is also included on this dual-layered disc.

Audio ***

Considering that this is a movie that is mostly dialogue-driven and nothing more, I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of this 5.1 digital presentation. Upbeat music is played frequently throughout the movie, along with some good sounding R&B tracks, which result in some nice speaker pick up. Dialogue is as clear as a bell, and the numerous background sounds are picked up nicely well, in addition.

Features ***

First off, there’s a running commentary by director Mark Brown, three featurettes; “How to Survive the Battle of the Sexes”, “First Time at Bat”, and “Vivica A. Fox Makes Her Move”. Also included is the Keke Wyatt music video for the song “Nothing in This World”, and trailers for this movie, as well as Baby Boy and The Brothers.

Summary:

Two Can Play That Game doesn’t delve into new territory, but it does contain a number of savvy performances, most notably Ms. Fox. All in all, a fair mixed reaction.