Two Can Play That Game

Directed by Mark Brown
Starring: Vivica A. Fox, Morris Chestnut, Anthony Anderson, Wendy Raquel Robinson, Tamalia Jackson, Mo'Nique, Bobby Brown, Gabrielle Union.
MPAA Rating: R for language including sexual dialogue.

Review by Evelyn Gildrie-Voyles <>
September 23, 2001

Two Can Play That Game is the definition of a star vehicle. The lead character, Shante Smith, talks directly to the audience throughout the movie as she explains step by step and day by day her ten day plan for disciplining a wandering man. She is on the screen by herself for about 30% of the movie. And she is only off the screen for a few scenes. It is a demanding role, one that demands an extremely charismatic actress who can bring sympathy and humor to a pretty flawed main character. Director Mark Brown has cast such an actress. Gabrielle Union oozes charisma, has a dynamite smile and matches leading man Morris Chestnut perfectly in acting ability and looks. Unfortunately, Union is not Shante Smith. She has a very small part, and in her very limited screen time she manages to totally outshine the star.

Vivica A. Fox is a competent actress, who has done quite well as the long-suffering good woman (Kingdom Come), but she comes across as flat and uncompelling as Shante Smith. Her asides to the audience sound like she's narrating an infomercial. She manages to have very little chemistry with either Morris Chestnut or Mo'Nique, Wendy Raquel Robinson, and Tamala Jones, who play her three best friends.

This is a shame because the script is pretty funny and the other performances are very funny. Morris Chestnut has got to work more. He is so much fun to watch. He has an easy, charming way of delivering any line and he has a smile that could stun wild animals. Anthony Anderson gets the Michael Caine Award for delivering consistently brilliant performances in a string of movies of debatable quality. Anderson and Chestnut have oodles of chemistry and their scenes together are the best in the movie. Another extremely likeable performance is by Mo'Nique as Deidre. Boy, can that woman deliver comedy.

Like Summer Catch, Two Can Play That Game suffers from a poor casting choice for the main character, but might be worth renting for the supporting cast.

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Two Can Play That Game (2001)

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