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The Player (1992)



Average Rating: 8.1/10
Critic Reviews: 9
Fresh: 8 | Rotten: 1

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 19,154

My Rating

Movie Info

Robert Altman takes a scalpel to Hollywood ethics in the 1990s (or the lack thereof) in his acidic satire The Player, adapted from Michael Tolkin's novel. (Tolkin also wrote the screenplay.) The film concerns a sleek and smooth Hollywood studio executive who starts receiving death threats from a disgruntled writer because he has committed the ultimate Hollywood sin -- he promised the writer he would call him back and he never did. This is particularly ironic because the studio executive, Griffin


Drama, Comedy

Michael Tolkin

Jul 16, 1997

Fine Line Features

Watch It Now


Latest News on The Player

March 14, 2012:
Fan Uncovers Robert Altman's First Film
The instructional flick, titled "Modern Football," was shot by Altman in 1951.
May 26, 2008:
Sydney Pollack dies aged 73
Academy Award-winning director, producer and actor, Sydney Pollack, dies aged 73.


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All Critics (55) | Top Critics (11) | Fresh (52) | Rotten (1) | DVD (15)

[It's] supposed to be scathing, but the pleasure it affords is like what you get from watching the Oscars: celebrity spotting and in-jokes.

April 28, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader | Comments (6)
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Mercilessly satiric yet good-natured, this enormously entertaining slam dunk quite possibly is the most resonant Hollywood saga since the days of Sunset Blvd. and The Bad and the Beautiful.

April 28, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A movie about today's Hollywood -- hilarious and heartless in about equal measure, and often at the same time.

October 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Mr. Altman's most subversive message here is not that it's possible to get away with murder in Hollywood, but that the most grievous sin, in Hollywood terms anyway, is to make a film that flops.

May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[Altman] sticks it to every target, himself and us included, with a wicked zest that hurts only when you laugh.

June 6, 2001
Rolling Stone
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Altman loves practical jokes, and The Player is his craftiest prank, his jolly last laugh.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Altman lets us vacation in Hollywood for a bit but not too long to feel smothered

January 19, 2014 Full Review Source: 7M Pictures
7M Pictures

Amusing black comedy on Tinseltown.

February 13, 2011 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

The Player can be admired even more now than it was at the time, because it so succinctly diagnosed the sickness that still causes Hollywood to churn out too much soulless "product."

September 11, 2010 Full Review Source: Aisle Seat
Aisle Seat

Altman performs a bit of legerdemain, poking fun at the film industry while simultaneously paying tribute to it.

August 30, 2010 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

Cynical, sophisticated movie-industry-murder-mystery made with great attention to detail, and still one of the best examples of Hollywood turning the camera on itself.

April 28, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4

One of the greatest Hollywood-eats-itself movies.

December 30, 2006 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

A daringly seductive satire working on its relentless terms with a fluid pace. Under seemingly improv surface, Altman has deconstructed Hollywood with cynical but not bitter eye, suggesting it's hard but not impossible for artists to work in the factory

October 5, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

As definitive a film about modern Hollywood as "Sunset Boulevard" was in its time.

July 6, 2005
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

A hilarious and insightful look at Hollywood's shallow underbelly.

April 17, 2005

An enticing, brilliantly scripted film about the movie industry and how the deals are made.

January 27, 2004

Essential to Altman's filmography, but it's not a complete Altman film.

January 21, 2004 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

A gem; it's not even my favorite Altman, but it'd probably be my favorite by most other directors.

August 15, 2003
Nick's Flick Picks

A hilarious and deftly convincing satire of contemporary Hollywood, courtesy of industry 'bad boy' Robert Altman.

July 30, 2003 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

A behind-the-scenes look at Tinsel Town.

July 18, 2003 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

One of the two or three cleverest, most probing of Hollywood satires.

April 10, 2003
San Francisco Examiner

Robert Altman at the very top of his filmmaking game.

January 16, 2003
KFOR Channel 4 News

Audience Reviews for The Player

Written by Michael Tolkin (based on his novel of the same name), this is Robert Altman's middle finger to Hollywood and its ethics (or lack thereof) about a jaded and smooth talking studio executive named Griffin Mill. mill spends most of his day listening to movie pitches, and is very callous when it comes to picking what his studio should green light. He's in danger of losing his job to an even slicker rival, and more importantly, he begins receiving death threats from a disgruntled screenwriter whom he shafted. Fed up, Griffin commits a little murder, and begins wooing the victim's lady. Things get even MORE shaky when he realizes he may have killed the wrong writer.

This is a fairly scathing satire, but Altman said it's actually rather gentle. I was somewhat disappointed by this, as I had been lead to believe that this was a very bleak and ruthless look at the screwed up world of the Hollywood system. I still really enjoyed the movie, and I loved how Altman successfully bit the hand that fed him, but it just ended up being something a little different from what I was hoping for. Ironically, this was a big hit for the director, and it was part of his early 90s renaissance that revitalized his long but flailing career.

The film has great production values, and is pretty intelligent with its aims. The legendary opening is a roughly 8 minute long take that tracks through the studio lot, weaving in and out of Griffin hearing various (and ridiculous) movie pitches. What really makes it shine is that it is a long take that makes several references to other famous long takes, and all of the dialogue was improvised. That's how you start a movie!

The Player is also well known for having around 60 or so cameos by many well known entertainers, some for maybe just a second or two, with many of them appearance for little to no pay. I'm not going into all the details of who shows up, but trust me, there's plenty of recognizable faces. The main cast is where the film is also quite strong, with Tim Robbins's performance as Griffin being one of his best. Whoopi Goldberg and Lyle Lovett are also pretty good as two detectives who firmly believe that Mill is guilty, and will stop at nothing to prove it. I also really liked Peter Gallagher as Mill's rival.

All in all, this is a really good film. It's a tad overrated, but still worth checking out, especially if you dig Altman, satires, and/or movies about movie making.
May 18, 2013
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

A masterpiece only overshadowed by his next film (Short Cuts), Altman's Hollywood satire is a hilarious and disturbing look at Hollywood.
October 28, 2011
Graham Jones

Super Reviewer

Kind of like a 2-hour episode of HBO's Entourage, only with less sex and more seriously-toned drama. The writing and directing is really quite impressive, but what will surely get your attention is the sparkling cast. Besides the main ensemble with Tim Robbins in the lead, cameos include names like Cher, John Cusack, Angelica Houston, Burt Reynolds and Jeff Goldblum. And that's just to mention a few. It even stars Jeremy "Ari Gold" Piven in a minor role, which really underlined the whole "Entourage feel". So if you happen to be a film buff (which I assume most of you are) or a fan of said show, you should definitely take the time to give this one a go.
August 10, 2011
Mike S

Super Reviewer

A beautiful slice of satire that only a true auteur like Robert Altman could craft so well, dealing with a Hollywood exec (Tim Robbins), who deals with stars on a daily basis, and how his life changes when he gets embroiled in an accidental murder case, in which he is clearly guilty. While it has the typical Altman traits (muddled talking, a detached feeling from the characters), this thing really comes together in striking fashion near its conclusion, when the laughs really start to take off and the brilliance of the film as a whole can no longer be denied. It does have some slow stretches (and one could argue it goes on a little too long), however, this is still a fine, fine piece of cinema that should definitely be seen by those who loves movies just as much as this film does.
May 10, 2011
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

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