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Players Review: Enjoyable Netflix romcom

Gina Rodriguez clinks glasses with her friends in the Netflix film Players

Although predictable at times, Netflix’s Players is a funny and sweet romcom that fans of the genre are going to enjoy.

As an avid rom-com watcher, Players was on my list ever since I first saw the trailer for it. Quite appropriately, the film was released on Netflix on Valentine’s Day, making it the perfect treat for the most romantic time of the year. Over the past few years, Netflix seems to have specialized in distributing a sheer amount of content, specifically in the rom-com genre. With some examples more successful than others – just think of The Kissing Booth or To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – it is good to see the streaming giant back on its game when it comes to delivering a crowd-pleasing romantic comedy.

Players stars Gina Rodriguez as Mack, a struggling sportswriter journalist who lives in New York City and lives and breaths sports, particularly baseball. When she is not reporting on local sports, however, Mack spends most of her time with her loyal group of friends, who she has known since college: Adam (Damon Wayans Jr.), Brannagan (Augustus Prew), and Little (Joel Courtney). Together, they come up with complicated and admittedly fairly successful schemes to pick up strangers. This all works well for them, until Mack meets war correspondent and Pulitzer finalist Nick (Tom Ellis) and realizes she now wants an adult relationship: will she be able to pull off the biggest scheme of all times and will it be worth it?

Players is genuinely really funny. It made me laugh out loud in more than one instance while watching, and that is its biggest strength. When it comes to this genre, and particularly newer films in recent years, it feels like the comedy aspect of romantic comedy is often forgotten along the way, so I was very happy to see a movie like Players that relied on its comedy just as much – if not even more – than on its romantic side. The jokes themselves may not seem that funny but the acting truly takes the entire film up a notch. The comedic timing is excellent, particularly from Damon Wayans Jr. and Augustus Prew, and the chemistry between the friends’ group where everyone easily bounces off each other really works too.

I also really liked how, despite being heavily focused on sports, you don’t need to have an extensive knowledge of baseball – or even chess box or turtle racing – in order to get Players. Its jokes and stakes are perfectly clear even to those who are not as engrossed in the world of sports or journalism as the protagonist is. At the same time, it manages to stay true to the reality of both of these industries that are often overly glamorised in this type of film. With the constant layoffs at the newspaper she works for and the stadium Mack used to go to being torn down, this film offers us a fresh – and perhaps – more real perspective into what sports journalism may look like today.

Tom Ellis as Nick and Gina Rodriguez as Mack sit at a table in a romantic mood in the Netflix film Players
(L-R) Tom Ellis as Nick and Gina Rodriguez as Mack in Players (K.C. Bailey / Netflix ©2023.)

As far as romcoms go, Players is fairly predictable. As the first act of the film plays out, it is already clear how it is going to end. But this is not something I particularly hated, after all, a lot of rom-coms are predictable. I think a lot of times it is more about how the film plays out the classic tropes of the genre and how it gets to that ending you could see all along rather than the element of surprise. This is true in Players where the comedy makes the journey to its predictable end worth it.

Is it going to become a rom-com classic like some of our favourite films of the genre? Probably not, but that does not make Players any less enjoyable. At its one hour and 45 minutes run time, it is a fine choice for a Netflix rom-com and the perfect entertainment if you are looking to laugh out loud, get a little emotional, and be put off eating whole branzino forever, not that I was particularly fond of it before watching this film.

Players is out now globally on Netflix.

Players: Trailer (Netflix)
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