Two Can Play That Game

The first noticeable element in Two Can Play That Game is that the narrator, Shante Smith (Vivica A. Fox, Kingdom Come, Double Take) directly addresses the camera, as if she is confiding to the audience. It is probably the most annoying element of this entire film, especially given the dull characters and meanness present in this lame battle-of-the-sexes so called "romantic comedy." This is the latest 'buppie' film, and it is nice seeing African Americans in roles that do not stereotype them by race, but unfortunate because the gender stereotypes run rampant. Two Can Play That Game essentially takes most of the idiotic concepts from The Rules and puts them to work, demonstrating to everybody who didn't already know that they do not work. Shante thinks her man Keith (Morris Chestnut, The Brothers, The Best Man) is cheating on her, and hatches a plan to win him back.

The bulk of this movie, written and directed by Mark Brown (How to Be a Player) consists of watching Shante's lame attempts to win Keith back by acting like a jerk. It is dumbfounding to think that a grown, educated woman acts this way towards a grown, educated man. Keith has patience, but begins to get annoyed. Good for him. He gravitates toward Conny Spalding (Gabrielle Union, The Brothers, Bring It On), another successful, attractive buppie (hey, they all are in these movies). Still, he cannot fathom why Shante is treating him like dirt. Egging her on are her friends, who believe she is doing he right thing. In Keith's corner is Tony (Anthony Andersen, Exit Wounds, See Spot Run), who has his own asinine opinions on how men should act in such situations. Of all her friends, Shante is the one who has the perfect relationship. That's why she needs to be so maniacal about winning back Keith, her pride and reputation are at stake. She concocts a plan that takes ten days, and by that time she believes Keith will be back in her arms.

Sounds good, but her plans are just plain dumb. Two Can Play That Game is essentially Shante acting like she is in junior high. Nastiness and mean-spiritedness in movies is not necessarily a bad thing. It can be biting or funny. But Brown's script just makes it look mean. Even worse is that the Keith character seems to have few flaws. He is the one that comes across as sympathetic, not Shante. Keith is a great catch, and if Shante wants to mess with things, let her. So instead of audiences rooting for Shante, they would much rather Keith leave her and find somebody else. Shante's persistence in her plan just makes the ending seem all the more hackneyed. Most of the characters here have little depth, which is yet another reason not to care about this movie. Everybody shows up and wears nice clothes, looks fantastic, and recites their lines. This movie feels and has the same emotional impact as a bad sitcom, just with higher production value.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 30 minutes, Rated R for language including sexual dialogue.

Back to Movies