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"We will convert this one night stand... into a romance."

I am not a romantic comedy person. At all. I far prefer to curl up with a nice, bloody horror movie. But I have watched some very bad movies before simply because it starred an actor that I adored. In this case, it was a shirtless Tom Ellis that led me astray.

Tom Ellis, whom I spent many years watching and reviewing with Lucifer, plays Nick. Nick is a foreign war correspondent who recently moved to New York City in order to finish his next novel. He has written several books on very depressing subjects like genocide, and he was a finalist for a Pulitzer! He didn't win, but he was a finalist! He speaks seven languages. He also has Egyptian cotton sheets, a 1,000 year old vase (I think) from Syria that for some reason is not in a museum, and matching dinnerware.

He's wealthy, sophisticated, charming, British, and looks like this without a shirt on.

Unfortunately, he also has the misfortune of not being the main character's best friend who walks her to the train at night, makes sure to save her fries, and knows that she eats falafel when she's sad.

Look, there are absolutely zero surprises here when it comes to plot. If you've seen one rom com, you know exactly how this one is going to end. But that was okay to me. I didn't need him to get the girl, I just wanted to be able to look at him for awhile as I ate too many Girl Scout cookies on Valentine's Day with my cat.

And in case I do get too snarky, I do want to say that Players does have some genuinely charming moments. It's cute. Gina Rodriguez as our protagonist is incredibly watchable and brings a great presence to every scene she's in. I especially enjoyed her relationship with Bran and how there was some really sweet moments where you actually bought that they had known each other for years. This is an accomplishment, because at all other times, Bran is the single most obnoxious person in the world. There are worse ways to spend two hours, I guess, as long as you can turn your brain off when it comes to the actual plot.

But if you can't? Oh boy. There is a lot here that is both infuriating, nonsensical, and mawkish in equal measure. (Had to get 'mawkish' in there.) Also, there's definitely spoilers below, if such a movie can truly be spoiled.

First off, everyone in the friend group works for the same newspaper. A small newspaper that somehow has an office space like it's still 2008 and can pay for a reporter to be solely dedicated to weird, local sports like boxing chess and turtle racing. Mack doesn't even cover normal sports. She only does the weird ones. While procrastinating on a big feature for several months that she hasn't told her boss about. This does not exist. Even though layoffs get mentioned a few times, it doesn't matter. In a movie filled with ridiculously unrealistic things, this was the worst offender.

Second, the entire premise revolves around this group of friends running very elaborate 'plays' on people so that one group member can sleep with them. This is okay, though, because the ringleader is our female protagonist, Mack. It would only be very creepy if a guy was leading it. But, it's okay! Mack is our leader and she tells us that it's no different than lying on your Tinder profile. It's okay!

But even Mack realizes that running plays is childish, and decides that she wants an adult. She wants Nick. And so, to get him, she will transform every facet of her personality in order to appeal directly to him. And then she will get upset when Nick doesn't like who she actually is as a person. This includes a line where she corrects him that she prefers her nickname as opposed to her full name, and it's stated like some big, impressive thing when all it means is that Mack never told Nick her preference.

Third, Tom Ellis can have chemistry with absolutely anyone, and yet outside of their first flirtations at a bar, he and Gina left me cold. Maybe that's intentional to show how little they have in common, but that might be giving the movie too much credit. It's not great when one half of your life triangle doesn't have believable romantic chemistry.

Fourth, they did not make Tom Ellis jerkish enough in order to sell the break up. Yeah, sure, there were some minor red flags like never sharing his food because he's worried about being poisoned by hostile foreign governments (what?) and completely rewriting Mack's article without warning her beforehand, but nothing that constituted an immediate dumping. Not when his rationale was actually reasonable. Okay, some of his rationale. There's no explaining away the fact that he won't share food. It just made Mack seem very childish and unreasonable given her own behavior.

Fifth, and this is more of a personal issue, but there was not nearly enough Tom Ellis either. I was hoping for more of a co-lead situation, but he was a supporting role at best. All of the friends got more screen time than him. Very sad. Very upsetting.

Still, at least he was very handsome.

Random Thoughts

Mack does get bonus points for liking both the Giants and the Yankees. I root for the same teams.

I also appreciated the bi-representation, even if it was Bran.

It's so ridiculous that I have to stress it again: no newspaper has someone dedicated solely to something like boxing chess or turtle racing.

An Honest Fangirl loves video games, horror movies, and superheroes, and occasionally manages to put words together in a coherent and pleasing manner.


  1. It's clear that this movie lacks my minimum requirement of Tom Ellis.

  2. I was willing to like this movie, despite also not being a romantic comedy fan, after I saw a few really positive reviews of it. I like Gina Rodriguez and Tom Ellis, too, so I expected an easy charmer.

    But I think this is a movie about sociopaths. When they started making charts and binders of Tom Ellis's habits I got seriously disturbed. They're basically stalking him, and it's portrayed as charming. It's not charming. It's extremely terrifying.

    It's also terrifying that audiences--other reviewers, not you and me--can find that behavior charming. What have we come to, if we've lost all sight of what basic respectful human interaction is?!

    Watching something this awful, I sometimes wonder how people will talk about it in 100 years as symptomatic of larger cultural ills, the way we talk about the obvious racism in nineteenth-century novels.

    Anyway, I never managed to finish it, because I was too freaked out by the stalking. I'm sorry to hear that Tom Ellis revised Gina Rodriguez's entire article. What a mean thing to do.

    And, finally: I live in a small city in the greater SoCal area, and our hyper-local paper has one columnist who only writes about animals. It's mostly a column on pets at the pound, with occasional follow-ups on how they've found their forever homes. Sometimes there are bigger discussions of animal-related topics, but not really. I doubt it's a full-time position, but it's the sort of adorable reportage that I love about hyperlocal news.


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