Two Can Play That Game

on September 07, 2001 by Jordan Reed
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   Men everywhere should pray they never end up dating a woman like Shante (Vivica A. Fox) in "Two Can Play That Game," the new film from Mark Brown ("How To Be A Player"). It's terrifying to entertain the possibility that someone would actually manipulate another human being the way she does her man Keith (Morris Chestnut) just to put him in his place for an innocent transgression. (She spies him out having a dance with a female co-worker.) After Keith explains himself clearly and reasonably, Shante proceeds to enact a 10-day plan to get back at him for what she sees as his egregious error, but her ploy starts to backfire when he takes an interest in Conny (Gabrielle Union), Shante's work nemesis.

   The best thing about "Two Can Play That Game" is Ms. Union, who, while not given the dialogue to outdo her spirited performance in "Bring It On," possesses a physical appeal that rivals any actress in movies today. It actually hurts to look at her. Two of the film's other supporting players stand out as well, though not for their beauty: Anthony Anderson (the only semi-redeemable part of "Exit Wounds") and Mo'Nique ("3 Strikes") provide the bulk of the laughs as Keith and Shante's respective cohorts, managing to inject life into the otherwise purely conventional roles of wisecracking sidekicks in a standard romantic comedy.

   Anderson's and Mo'Nique's talents make "Two Can Play That Game" just amusing and light enough to be worth the trouble despite its often trite familiarity. But be warned: it contains a scene in which a group of women jump up and start singing and dancing to a song on the stereo. It may be something by Aretha Franklin, but a more fitting ditty for Shante would be the Rolling Stone's "Bitch." Starring Vivica A. Fox and Morris Chestnut. Directed and written by Mark Brown. Produced by Doug McHenry, Mark Brown and Paddy Cullen. A ScreenGems release. Romantic comedy. Rated R for language including sexual dialogue. Running time: 88 min

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