In a summer that’s seen too many limpid romantic heroes, Two Can Play That Game, with its long line-up of lusty lovers, is refreshing proof that sex is still a passionate pursuit for most players. It’s also a feminist nightmare: All these confident, high-struttin’, top-rung grabbin’ women, with everything going in life for them, still feel they have to descend to Feminine Wiles to keep their men in line. And it works! According to director Mark Brown (in his directorial debut), who mined this same territory in his script for How to Be A Player, men love women who know how to manipulate them. “Men are like stray dogs,” says Shante, the gorgeous young advertising executive (Vivica A. Fox, Kingdom Come), who preaches her 10-Day Program-To-Get-Your-Man-Back gospel directly to the audience. “You feed a stray dog and one day he’ll come back again.” Yeah, I know some of you will gag, especially since she’s referring to boyfriend Morris Chestnut (Brothers) who is a totally gorgeous, young hot-shot lawyer — and a nice guy, too. But the movie is funny, which is more than you can say for political correctness of any sort. Game has warranted a rash of unnecessarily harsh reviews. That’s a shame. If you can get past the graphic locker-room sex banter and the general sitcom silliness of the movie’s how-to-manipulate message, you’ll get Two Can Play That Game’s other message: confidence is an every day, 24-hour-a-day thing. How you handle the mating game is how you handle your life. Game is full of double-edged messages actually. it’s about sex and cleavage and skin-tight pants, but there’s no nudity. It’s about the most intimate lives of men and women, in which all their friends are actively involved, raring to know every “then she said this, then I said that,” detail. The women are man-crazy, but they’re are also always sisterly and supportive with one another, even though every woman outside of the circle is a “‘ho'”. The men lust after every woman in sight, but they want a committed relationship with one woman. Even when they’re anguishing about their love life, every character in Game is enthusiastic about life and bushy-tailed eager to grab every minute of it — and they don’t need drugs or booze. The most entertaining characters in the movie are two actors who seem to have gleefully sacrificed flat bellies for the funniest lines. Anthony Anderson may some day hand in his second banana roles (See Spot Run) and take his own as a comedic lead. Every moment he’s on screen, it sizzles. And if you muzzle her mouth, Mo’Nique could be the next poster girl for “Big and Beautiful and Proud of It.” Ignore the critics and enjoy the Game.
– reviewed by Marci Miller