Playing It Cool

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Playing It Cool Movie Poster Image
Cheerful cast saves lackluster romcom; lots of sex talk.
  • R
  • 2015
  • 94 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Main themes are about opening yourself up to the idea of love and that grasping for safety isn't healthy -- and neither is rejecting love when it comes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The characters are mainly ordinary, neurotic folks who are trying to fall in love but make lots of mistakes -- and turning to drinking when they do.

Violence

Punching, fist fights. Brief flashbacks with violent undertones. Death is discussed. A supporting character dies. Dead body in a swimming pool. Character hit with a shovel. Someone uses the word "rape."

Sex

Main characters have sex. A man receives oral sex in his car. Lots of kissing and foreplay. Brief shot of sex in a bed (under the covers). Characters cheat on their significant others. Seductive babysitter dances. Heavy, frequent sexual innuendo and humor. No graphic nudity.

Language

Frequent language includes "s--t," "f--k," "p---y," "ass," "bitch," "balls," "d--k," "penis," "blow job," "orgy," "hell," and "Jesus" (as an exclamation). Middle finger gesture.

Consumerism

Captain Crunch cereal plays a part in the plot.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Fairly frequent drinking, sometimes to the point of staggering drunkenness. Heavy cigarette smoking. All played mostly for humor.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Playing It Cool is a romantic comedy that tries to deconstruct the romcom genre. It doesn't quite succeed, but the likable cast -- including Chris Evans (Captain America) and Aubrey Plaza -- will be a draw for many teens. Sex is a big issue; there's no graphic nudity, but characters frequently jump into bed with one another, cheating on significant others. There are also plenty of risque sexual situations (including implied oral sex) and lots of innuendo and sex-related humor. Language is likewise heavy, with uses of "s--t," "f--k," "p---y," and more. Characters drink a lot, getting falling-down drunk in some scenes; it's all played for humor and is pretty consequence-free. One character smokes cigarettes regularly. There are a few brief fights and punches, mostly intended to be funny, as well as some other brief, mild, violent imagery.

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What's the story?

In PLAYING IT COOL, an unnamed narrator (Chris Evans) works as a screenwriter, toiling away on a romantic comedy that just can't seem to come together. That's because, since his mother abandoned him as a child, he's never really been in love. But things change when he meets the perfect girl (Michelle Monaghan) and everything clicks; everything, that is, except for the fact that she has a boyfriend (Ioan Gruffudd) and would rather trade love for security. The narrator's band of writer friends (Aubrey Plaza, Topher Grace, Luke Wilson, Martin Starr), his agent (Anthony Mackie), and his granddad (Philip Baker Hall) give him advice -- and help deconstruct the romantic comedy formula that the narrator's life seems to be turning into.

Is it any good?

The main storyline doesn't quite work, the movie's smaller character interactions are charmingly funny. The cast genuinely seems to enjoy one another's company (especially Evans and Anthony Mackie, of Captain America and the Falcon fame). They contribute a laid-back quality that helps the rest of the movie go down fairly easy, even if it will soon be forgotten.

Playing It Cool seems to be an attempt to go "meta" on the romantic comedy genre, with a screenwriter and all his writer friends talking about all the genre's shopworn twists and turns as the movie goes along. The problem is that the movie actually uses those old shopworn twists and turns, straight-faced, without irony. The idea seems to be that true love trumps all screenwriting conventions, but while the chemistry between Evans and Monaghan is friendly and easygoing, it hardly seems adoring, burning, or passionate.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Playing It Cool's sexual content. How do the characters view sex? How much sex/nudity is shown? What affect does it have on the characters and the story? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.

  • Why do you think the characters drink so much? Do they seem to enjoy it, or do they turn to it for other reasons? Are there any realistic consequences?

  • What does the movie have to say about the romantic comedy genre? Why do you think so many romantic comedies rely on the same elements?

Movie details

For kids who love romantic comedies

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