‘Players’ Review: Should You Watch Netflix’s Big Valentine’s Day Movie?

The latest Netflix romantic comedy, Players, is now streaming, but should you give it a watch?

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Players Netflix Movie Review

Picture: Netflix

Released on the premium Valentine’s Day slot, Players is the latest attempt from Netflix at a star-driven romantic comedy after 2023’s critically panned originals You People, Happiness For Beginners, The Perfect Find, and last year’s Valentine’s Day offering Your Place or Mine.

The film is co-produced & stars frequent Netflix collaborator Gina Rodriguez (Someone Great, Spy Kids: Armageddon) as Mack, a New York sports writer who has spent years devising hook-up “plays” with her best friend Adam (Damon Wayans Jr.) and their crew.

While it has led to countless one-night stands over the years, following their playbook comes with a strict set of ground rules – chief among them: you can’t build a relationship from a play. When Mack unexpectedly falls for her latest target, charming war correspondent Nick (Lucifer star Tom Ellis), she begins to rethink the game entirely. As the lines between work, fun, friendship, and romance begin to blur, Mack must learn what it takes to go from simply scoring to playing for keeps.

Alongside Rodriguez, Wayans Jr., and Ellis, the cast features The Kissing Booth star Joel Courtney as Little, Augustus Prew (The Morning Show) as Brannagan, and Liza Koshy (Work It) as Ashley.

Players marks the 5th feature from Grammy-winning music video director Trish Sie, whose career was launched by her wildly inventive videos with alt-rock/power pop band OK Go before landing franchise films with Step Up All In and Pitch Perfect 3.

Based on the original script from former Marvel’s “Daredevil” executive story editor Whit Anderson, this occasionally sports-influenced movie acts like a common occurrence in many NBA games: a tale of two halves. The first half is a lighter affair with more “com” than “rom” and a unique angle with the crew of friends running hook-up “plays” for each other to get laid in the hard-to-get Big Apple. These playful gambits peak when the target gets bigger in the form of Pulitzer Prize finalist and writer Nick Russell, the hook-up target turned chance at a true adult relationship for Mack. Along with her talented crew of performance artist friends/newspaper co-workers, Mack creates some genuinely inventive and entertaining maneuvers to slowly win the affections of Tom Ellis’ Nick.

However, the second half is a different story. Once Mack is elevated to real-date status with Nick, the movie loses momentum in a big way. While some it is deliberate as to display the flaws in certain aspects of the budding relationships in the film, the rest is more due to a heavier reliance on the chemistry between its leads and far less on the more effective ensemble.

Gina Rodriguez and Damon Wayans Jr. don’t get a ton of solo screen time and when they do, the romantic entanglements leave much to be desired. Wayans Jr. fell prey to this in his last Netflix rom-com, Love Guaranteed, as he and co-star Rachael Leigh Cook rarely felt like they were in the same movie, let alone burgeoning romantic partners.

Add in a late-stage play to make Tom Ellis into a snooty, self-absorbed know-it-all (a real bummer for Lucifer fans), and you have a recipe for a flat story dismount. While the final minutes try to save themselves from the less engaging previous 45 with one last “play,” the story has already lulled us into its predictable landing.

Players Netflix Movie February 2024

Picture: Netflix

For the more die-hard rom-com fans, the messaging might be more appreciated, at least. Consider what you want or deserve before entering a relationship with someone who looks great on paper or as the movie paraphrases as “caught up in ‘could get’ without considering ‘should get’”. The unfortunate irony is that the film creates a very weak “should get” to give us a very benign happily ever after.

Overall, Players is exactly what you might think it was from the trailer, the description, or the actors within a safe, simple, sometimes fun, sometimes bland rom-com that doesn’t have the same chemistry, energy, or compulsion that it would from a more charismatic set of leads, a fresher, more balanced script, or a livelier pace. The supporting cast of Prew, Courtney, and Koshy do everything they can to give the movie life when called upon, but those moments are too few and too fleeting to give the movie the necessary verve to keep its audience engaged throughout. Rodriguez and Wayans Jr. are well suited for the fun and friendly moments of the film, but less suitable for the more dramatic & romantic entanglements that the film requires, especially in the 2nd half. An average film that may look better when held up to the lesser Netflix rom-coms of last year (outside of Love at First Sight … underrated!).

Watch Players on Netflix If You Like

  • Someone Great
  • Love, Guaranteed
  • Lucifer
  • Hitch
  • Set It Up

MVP of Netflix’s Players

The “Players” Crew

While the romance and relationship drama felt more forced and flat, the friends/co-workers that buoyed the more free-flowing and enjoyable comedic moments gave the movie a distinctive flavor and bounce when it needed it most.

Headed by on-screen brothers Brannagan and “Little” Ryan (performed by Augustus Prew and Joel Courtney), the crew seemed to have a great time hatching schemes, researching potential prey, and wearing the occasional goofy disguises. Office secretary turned “Little” love interest Ashley (played by Liza Koshy) turned the games up a notch in a scene-stealing performance as the necessary messy female friend.


It is better than most of Netflix’s recent rom-com output with the fun hookup “plays” angle and solid supporting cast, but the lack of magnetism and charm in the 2nd half of romance led to a more pedestrian film overall. 

Written by

Andrew Morgan is a film critic & podcaster with 20 years of experience on the sets & offices of film & television. Current podcast host of the entertainment review show, Recent Activity. He lives in the Northeast of the United States.

 Poster Rating: TV-14
Language: English
Genre: Crime, Drama, Fantasy
Cast: Tom Ellis, Lauren German, Kevin Alejandro, D.B. Woodside, Lesley-Ann Brandt, Aimee Garcia
Season Additions:
  • - Season 6 was added to Netflix on September 10th, 2021
  • - Season 5 - Part 2 was added to Netflix on May 28th, 2021
  • - Season 5 - Part 1 was added to Netflix on August 21st, 2020
  • - Season 4 was added to Netflix on May 8th, 2019
  • - 3 Seasons was added to Netflix on December 15th, 2018
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