HOW TO BE A PLAYER (1997)

howtobeaplayer

Directed By: Lionel C. Martin
Story By: Mark Brown
Written By: Mark Brown & Demetria Johnson
Editor: William Young 


Cast: Bill Bellamy, Pierre, Natalie Desselle, Mari Morrow, Lark Voorhies, Bernie Mac, Jermaine Hopkins, A.J. Johnson, Beverly Johnson, Gilbert Gottfried, Max Julien, Amber Smith, Elise Neal, Jazsmin Lewis 


Dray is a young playboy whose only objective in life seems to be to have sex with as many girls as he can without getting caught by his girlfriend Lisa. Dray’s sister Jenny and her friend Katrina plan to show him that the way he lives is wrong and organize a party in Malibu, inviting all of his girlfriends.


I remember this film win heavily touted by MTV. An in house production starring one it’s vj’s at the time stand-up comedian bill Bellamy. It was advertised for it’s eventually better than average soundtrack heavily. Which also ends up being it’s most noteworthy quality

It is hard to really like or be entertained by a film in which you so heavily dislike the lead who is using women horribly. Second the film tries to showcase a few women who are smart, bit ends up making most of not all either just eye candy and sexual objects to be used only for such and who can’t seem to resist the charms of Bill Bellamy sexually. No matter how sensible. I am all for a film showcasing the beauty of women, but then using them and demeaning them. Makes this film seems like a rap video from back In the day stretched out to 90 minutes and with more dialogue. It doesn’t help that the film also presents is with little stakes for the characters and their situations.

An excuse for a film to be truly Misogynistic. Where most of the female characters are caricatures to wear less than enough clothes in and look good in short outfits. Being judged only for that quality. While in between we watch the male characters In what passes for comedic situations as they encounter, scheme and attempt to seduce these women.

Even the ending is weak as he still gets what he wants and only has one snafu that realistically he can easily get himself out of though it is blown up as life changing.

Watching his film it seems to become more insulting the longer it goes. Especially as he dispenses so called tips an advice for picking up women. Many of which instantly fail the film. Even Natalie Deselle who seems to put a lot of energy into her role only for the performance to be wasted on this material.

Don’t get me wrong the women throughout the film are beautiful, but their should be more to them and their characters then that. Sure hoeing African American women as sexy and beautiful is nice, but all it manages to do is focus on their sex appeal and present them as sexual objects and not as people or characters. So that it insult and demeans more then it helps.

An extended version of the seduction scene between Dre and Amber was shot but cut for time. The scene was over 7 minutes long. There is an extended version of the opening sex scene between Dre and Amber. The scene was edited down for time. It ran over 5 minutes. A deleted sex scene between Amber and Dre was cut. The scene was meant for the end of the film. Producers felt the scene was unnecessary and cut it. The scene ran 3 minutes 45 seconds. The only time the producers seem to find restraint in the whole film

It’s obviously an my film that shows the depth the film lacks yet tries to impart to it’s audience and especially seeming to be marketed to a young African American audience. Calling itself a comedy, bit more sad hen anything else.

It also look remarkably low budget, though tries to seem like it costs more.

I was watching a recent repeat of the sitcom BLACK-ISH in the episode the father Andre is working on an ad for alcohol where it’s funny, catchy and everyone loves it who he shows it to except the women in his life who point out how offensive it is. He argues with them but is going to put it out anyway until he sees his son emulate the behavior and it disturbs him. So he pulls the ad and makes a more traditional one. As he saw how much damage he was doing to his community and others by putting out such a fun yet offensive ad. That is the equivalent of watching this movie.

It is rarely entertaining yet you can see it’s aim, but overall the film is more offensive and insulting then It might realize the same goes for the audience who chooses to watch this film.

This seems more simple and lazier and then the movie BOOTY CALL. Though this film certainly has more sex. At least with booty calmly eh cast had chemistry and a more likeable cast. This film feels all over the place.

It’s unfunny and misogynistic. The actual tips that stem from the title don’t even seem to be good and they don’t work. As he more or less comes across as a lucky gigolo.

What is strange is that this is a hard R-Rated film yet the humor is more for teenagers. Especially as it was produced by MTV. Which has a ting audience but even they should know their audience is more teenagers then adults or at least an audience old enough to buy tickets for this movie or have a parent but the ticket and watch it with them.

The female cast members look gorgeous throughout but are rarely shown with any brains or respectability.

The beginning and ending think they are clever but yet the character still gets what he wants with only a slight hiccup as he has to pay for his sin. What is disturbing is that the film builds up a female character to seem strong and independent then let’s her be a victim to her desire and then the film wants to call to clever when she sides the situation to her advantage. Even though she did succumb.

The seduction scene ran a full 7 minutes and was shown at the beginning and end of the movie. Yet the filmmakers cut it as they felt it was unecessary. Which is hard to believe especially as much excess this movie has and always seems willing to go over the top.

Bill Bellamy fits into the role, but he doesn’t form off as irresistible or charismatic As the film makes him out to be. It doesn’t help that none of his buddies are funny or charismatic either and only one is sympathetic after ruining a good relationship to try and be like Bellamy’s Character.

He also fits into the riser off he film as he was a VJ for mtv at the time. So it was a beneficial casting that helped each other. As he definitely had name recognition at the time.

Max Julien (Star of the movie THE MACK) has a cameo in the movie to kind of offer a mentor position, but the cameo seems wasted if only for him to honor a successor to his legacy and mantle or at least offer something to the main character to aspire to. Though there is a difference between a player and a pimp.

Mari morrow is also good as she comes across as smart and sexy. Yet obviously too good for this movies she deserved better. The film Might have been more fun but the movie too place more from their points of views.

The film was clearly made in a different time when the video girls era was beginning and that seems to be what ladies were aspiring to. To be celebrated for beauty alien and maybe sexual prowess. Lowering themselves to a degree. Being. Exploited by the peers that be. As they aren’t given much characterization other then his sister and her friend. The others are more dimensional personalities or known by look or predilection. To try and make the film universal they even throw in a Caucasian woman for him to mess with.

One of the female characters justifies cheating on her husband because she can’t resist this player and she never even gets a comeuppance. Nor thankfully are we made to feel sympathetic to her. Know this is supposed to be not that deep but one can’t help but feel sad that this is a subplot that is supposed to be comedic and entertain. Though it seems it allows for Bernie Mac to play her husband in a role that reverses his character dilemma from the movie FRIDAY, but then again also comes off as repetitive. Even as the movie tries to make him look like an unjustified villain when his character is actually doing the right thing, but he film needs it’s share of antagonists.

The film at times even tries to be – sex comedy. The sex isn’t funny and strangely a bit graphic.

The film could be stronger all Around especially as the lead character really learns nothing and by the end of the movie comes across as a villain in his own movie. As the two people close to him actually seem to learn lessons and change for the better.

The film plays off of stereotypes that seem racist a little while putting a more diverse and black cast on the screen. So it feels like it sabotages itself. This film as the characters are sex hungry and obsessed. They also seem to aspire to live mtv cribs type lives on a much lower budget.

So it comes off as insulting that it clearly never meant to be. Where as if there was more reasoning for the characters this film could at least be funny. As it seems like it came across as an idea and written just as fast. Just to go with the title.

As the film looks like a unstylish music video without a song to give it depth.

As an MTV film with a good R & B soundtrack that tries to come off colorful yet is gaudy most of the time.

GRADE: F

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s