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Two Can Play That Game

A sort of big-screen comedic adaptation of The Rules and other contemporary guides that teach women to approach dating with battlefield-style strategies, Two Can Play That Game originally had the far more descriptive, if no more promising, title How To Make Your Man Behave In 10 Days… Or Less. Vivica A. Fox plays the font of such wisdom, a highly successful advertising executive. In fact, all her friends, as the film goes to great lengths to point out, have risen to the highest ranks of their chosen professions (except for comedienne Mo'Nique, for whom simply being "ghetto fabulous" is apparently accomplishment enough). The concentration of energy required to achieve such success might explain the emotional retardation that leads them to collapse when their relationships go awry, but the film never makes that connection. Instead, it relies heavily on fourth-wall-breaking narration, as Fox explains just about everything else in the process of detailing the sadistic mind games that have made her such an inspiration to her friends. She finds her own wisdom put to the test, however, when she catches boyfriend Morris Chestnut—horrors!—dancing with another woman. This discovery prompts a 10-day-long program in which Fox neglects, punishes, teases, and otherwise abuses Chestnut in order to teach him a lesson. Written and directed by Mark Brown, who also penned the opposite-sex companion piece How To Be A Player, Two Can Play That Game provides few moments diverting enough to distract from its unforgivable premise. (The energetic performance of Anthony Anderson as Chestnut's excitable pal comes closest.) If Game was going to have any depth, it would have had to come from Fox, who doesn't seem up to the task. The burden of speaking to the camera weighs heavily on even the most skilled actors, and in the film's worst moments, she assumes the flat, slightly bored tone of someone hosting a New Year's Eve special—or, as would befit the original title, an instructional video. Game doesn't impart much information that isn't equally available in countless other battle-of-the-sexes comedies, and it would take far more laughs to distract viewers from that fact.


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