The Players

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
The Players Movie Poster Image
Cheating is main theme of dumb Italian sex comedy.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 88 minutes

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

Positive Messages

No positive messages in this male-centric Italian sex comedy that explores the theme of infidelity. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters are sex-obsessed middle-aged men who cheat on their wives. 

Violence

Man nearly forces a woman to have sex with him in a hotel room, continuing to make aggressive sexual advances even after she has said no repeatedly. Pet dog found dead in a car after being left inside while its owner is busy trying to catch her husband having an affair. 

Sex

Naked breasts in paintings. Character doodles pictures of naked women while taking part in a panel discussion. Character shown from a distance in the back masturbating in a hotel bathroom. Man performs oral sex on a woman. Man goes to a sex parlor where he finds sexual gratification from sticking his penis into a hole in the wall. Male characters are obsessed with sex, and it's the main topic of conversation throughout the movie. When a husband and wife both admit to having affairs with other partners, they go into detail about where they had sex, and the man asks if her partner "was bigger than me." 

Language

"F--k" frequently used. Also: "bulls--t," "p---y," "s--t," "a--hole," "ass," "bastard." Euphemisms for sex used by the characters. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Cigarette smoking. Drinking in bars, restaurants, cocktail parties. Vodka, beer, wine drinking. A man gets drunk on the night of a work convention and makes a series of bad decisions, including trying to commit adultery with a married coworker. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Players (aka Gli infideli) is a 2020 Italian sex comedy in which five middle-aged married men look for sex and lovers outside of their marriages. The movie is in Italian, with English subtitles. The men are sex-obsessed -- constantly talking about sex (when not engaged in it), pursuing women at every opportunity, and trying to keep their affairs hidden from their suspicious wives. Surprisingly, while there are sex acts in the movie (oral sex, masturbation, a man using a hole in the wall of a sex parlor), there's very little nudity aside from naked breasts in paintings at the beginning, and a character doodling naked women during a boring work seminar. In one of the vignettes, a drunk man in a hotel room begins making aggressive sexual advances on a married coworker; they don't have sex, but he continues the advances long after she has said no. A dog is found dead in the backseat of a car after being left inside by a woman trying to catch her husband in the middle of having an affair. Regular profanity, including "f--k" used several times. Cigarette smoking. This is a remake of a 2012 French comedy of the same name. 

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What's the story?

In a series of vignettes, THE PLAYERS explores the theme of middle-aged male infidelity. While at the airport en route to a vacation, a wife accuses her husband of having an affair, and he nearly convinces her that it's not true until she surreptitiously checks his phone before takeoff. In the next story, back at home after a dinner party filled with conversation about affairs and cheating, a man (Valerio Mastandrea) admits that he has been unfaithful to his wife, who retaliates with secrets of her own. Then, a married man seeks sexual satisfaction through a "gloryhole" in a sex parlor. Next, a wannabe Don Juan out of town for a work convention (Riccardo Scamarcio) gets drunk and awkwardly fails at finding a woman to have sex with, and ends up humiliating himself in the middle of the night while trying to seduce a coworker. After this, a woman thinks she sees her husband receiving oral sex while he's driving his convertible; he gaslights her into requiring psychiatric care. 

Is it any good?

While being presented as an "Italian sex comedy," there's nothing particularly funny about this movie. For instance, the "twist ending'" to the vignette concerning a dissatisfied married man who resorts to anonymous sex through a hole in the wall of a sex parlor seems more like an X-rated resolution to one of those Mentos commercials from the '90s more than anything. In another story, a pathetic white-collar Don Juan wannabe ends up in the hotel room of a coworker at three in the morning and engages in borderline sexual assault. In the penultimate vignette, a man gaslights his wife (who rightly thinks she sees him receiving oral sex while driving in his convertible) into requiring psychiatric care. Essentially, if you remove the middle-aged European suave style (and perhaps the Viagra), it seems more like one of those randy and very dumb teen sex comedies from the '80s. 

The Players isn't all bad. Most of the male characters are played by either Scamarcio or Mastandrea, and the range of character types presented over the course of the movie is impressive. In the best vignette, the slow descent between a husband and wife into a mostly theoretical discussion of infidelity into the mutual admittance of their own indiscretions and how it nearly destroys their marriage and family is masterfully paced. But even that takes the easy way out at the end. Overall, the promising premises of each story end in disappointment. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how sex is presented in The Players. Does the movie glamorize womanizing, casual sex, and cheating on one's spouse, or is the comedy rooted in showing the ridiculous lengths these sex-obsessed men will go to sleep with other women? 

  • Do you think impressionable viewers (particularly teen boys) could be influenced by the questionable behavior of these men, or is their behavior so outlandish that it's impossible for anyone to view it as a way to act in society? 

  • How does this compare to other sex comedies you've seen?

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