The Player Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ August 16, 2014
Brilliantly constructed comedy drama, The Player is a richly detailed effort, one that has a well layered story that keeps you involved because you are left wondering how this will end. Hearing great things about the film, I gave a shot, but at times I felt like it was a bit overrated. The Player is far from a bad film and what we have here is a very good picture that combines effective storytelling with wonderful acting. I enjoyed the film, and felt it was well done, and it definitely kept you on the very edge of your seat despite the lack of truly entrancing storytelling. To me, this is a film that works well enough to make you think hard, and you get sense of that when you watch the film, but at the same time you wonder why the film has gotten so much praise. Tim Robbins is as usual in top form here and he acts quite well and he's a wonder to watch here on-screen. The Player is one of those movies that tend to be overhyped, but once you see it you are left wanting a bit more as well. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the film, but I simply didn't enjoy it as much as what everyone did. This is an engrossing picture, but there is a few times where the film could have been improved upon. Overall, this is well worth seeing, and it's a film that merits recommendations despite its flaws.
Super Reviewer
October 12, 2011
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.
Super Reviewer
½ October 27, 2011
A masterpiece only overshadowed by his next film (Short Cuts), Altman's Hollywood satire is a hilarious and disturbing look at Hollywood.
Super Reviewer
½ July 3, 2007
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.
Super Reviewer
½ May 10, 2011
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.
Super Reviewer
½ September 10, 2010
Robert Altman's "The Player" is, to me, the cream of the crop. 1990s films don't get much better. This is a biting Hollywood satire that completely shines when dipping into meta-narrative. The performances are nuanced, fun and effective. The humor is scathing and the dialogue is witty and memorable. The cinematography is typically Altman-eque; the man knew how to move a camera. Also, "The Player" vibrates with characters, always adding that immediacy Altman works best with. "The Player" is nothing but engrossing fun with a wicked black heart.
Super Reviewer
½ July 9, 2009
This is one of the few movies that Altman directed that doesn't overuse the overlapping dialogue, and for that I thank him. I love how this movie is so hilarious in the weirdest places, and how it crosses genre into the venues of thriller and crime (sometimes it even reminded me of Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors), and how the masses of cameo talent just breeze in and out without a thought. I enjoy this film not only as a satire, but as an actual movie.
Super Reviewer
August 8, 2008
Fantastically intelligent satire on the Hollywood system without ever disappearing up its own arse. The opening shot alone pretty much sums up the irony of the film which extends to the overall thriller narrative. All the stars excel in their cameos and the ones who are acting such as Robbins, Ward and Goldberg really are sensational. The scenes at the police station are unlike those from any other film and the "Hollywood" ending of both the film and the film within a film are hilariously spectacular. Robbins is always likable despite mostly being a little shit, it's the sympathy he brings with the roll that works so well. It's witty, smart and best of all accessible.
Super Reviewer
July 30, 2007
A novel approach to behind-the-scenes Hollywood scriptwriting society. It's black comedy with a lot of cool cameo appearances by the contemporary stars of the time. It has some nice commentary on the film industry. I wouldn't call it brilliant however.
Super Reviewer
June 1, 2007
Larry Levy: I'll be there right after my AA meeting.
Griffin Mill: Oh Larry, I didn't realize you had a drinking problem.
Larry Levy: Well I don't really, but that's where all the deals are being made these days.

A very good Hollywood satire portraying the early 90s movie culture. This is a movie that goes right along as a companion piece with American Psycho, another satire focused on 80s culture. Both of these films are darkly hilarious.

Tim Robbins stars as a studio executive who's job is to say yes or no to movie pitches. He starts to receive death letters from a screenwriter he has rejected and attempts to take matters into his own hand. What follows is a mix of Hitchcock thriller and satirical plays the life of someone involved in Hollywood.

Hitchcock isn't the only clear reference hear, director Robert Altman takes cues from all sorts of movies. First example comes in the opening shot of the movie, which is a very long and has actors coming in and out discussing other films with long, continuous shots.

The supporting cast, which includes Fred Ward, Peter Gallagher, and Whoopi Goldberg among others are all very good as well. This movie is also a who's who of early 90s popularity, as it features over 50 celebrity cameos, all of whom improv their presence on screen.

A lot of the dialogue throughout the movie is improvised, and a lot of it is very funny. Though some of the humor is very subtle, it is easily a movie that I can watch again soon because it is very enjoyable.

Andy Civelli: Griffin, you move in mysterious ways, but I like it! I like it!
Super Reviewer
½ April 2, 2007
One of Altman's very best.
Super Reviewer
½ December 18, 2006
This wickedly delicious satire on Hollywood tells us more about the industry than any documentary ever could.
Super Reviewer
November 5, 2006
A great movie and essential tool for 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon.
Super Reviewer
½ October 1, 2007
Tons of Hollywood cameos and in-jokes about unproduced movie plots. Altman juggles characters in this thriller of death threats, murder, and backstabbing. I don't find skewering the dark side of Hollywood as funny as some of the other settings in films Altman has directed.
Super Reviewer
March 8, 2012
A great movie that pokes fun at everything about Hollywood in a subtle, but hilarious fashion.
Super Reviewer
February 14, 2012
Smart and original. This is Altman at his pinnacle which only reinforces the disappointment that was Short Cuts afterwards. Well filmed, a brilliant concept and great acting. Can't ask for much more.
Super Reviewer
August 15, 2011
Robert Altman's The Player is a quaint and clever middle finger to Hollywood and the movie industry. It's funny and knows it subject very well. After watching it a second time, I grasp and understand the film's message and the people that it speaks out against. Sometimes there are films that require a re-watch.

The film opens with a magnificently orchestrated tracking shot that lasts for at least a good five minutes. Robert Altman hasn't really impressed me all that much with his filmography, but I do admire his directorial skills. Here in The Player, he shines. I love the way he positions his shots, where the main event often takes place in the background with something obscuring it in the foreground.

I loved the final scene, where there is a screening of Habeas Corpus. It has a different ending then it had when originally scripted. Julia Roberts says 'What took you so long?' and Bruce Willis replies with 'Traffic was a bitch.' Then that same scene is re-enacted between Tim Robbins and Greta Scacchi, after Robbins receives a phone call from the mysterious writer summing up the entire movie. Now, tell me that wasn't ingenious.
Super Reviewer
February 20, 2011
This movie is the best evidence I can offer for why Robert Altman never got any serious recognition for his illustrious career other than that bullshit lifetime achievement Oscar. He recognized that Hollywood is full of monstrous, lying, assholes and he dared to call them out on it.
Super Reviewer
July 7, 2008
A satire of the film industry whose bite has grown considerably muted over time.
Super Reviewer
April 5, 2007
Ingeniusly clever Hollywood satire that bites the hand that feeds it. Cameos everywhere!
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