The Player


The Player

Critics Consensus

Bitingly cynical without succumbing to bitterness, The Player is one of the all-time great Hollywood satires -- and an ensemble-driven highlight of the Altman oeuvre.



Reviews Counted: 62

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 20,557


All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 3.7/5

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Movie Info

Robert Altman's provocative satire of the movie industry stars Tim Robbins as Griffin Mill, an unscrupulous Hollywood studio executive who finds himself threatened not only by up-and-comer Larry Levy (Peter Gallagher) but by the stranger sending out postcards calling for Mill's death. Having concluded that the mysterious correspondent is screenwriter David Kahane (Vincent D'Onofrio), whose film treatment Mill rejected, the producer arranges a meeting that ends with Mill killing Kahane, resulting in a murder investigation.

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Tim Robbins
as Griffin Mill
Greta Scacchi
as June Gudmundsdottir
Fred Ward
as Walter Stuckel
Whoopi Goldberg
as Detective Avery
Peter Gallagher
as Larry Levy
Brion James
as Joel Levison
Cynthia Stevenson
as Bonnie Sherow
Vincent D'Onofrio
as David Kahane
John Cusack
as Himself
Richard E. Grant
as Tom Oakley
Sydney Pollack
as Dick Mellon
Lyle Lovett
as Detective DeLongpre
Jeremy Piven
as Steve Reeves
Gina Gershon
as Whitney Gersh
as Herself
Peter Falk
as Himself
Jack Lemmon
as Himself
Nick Nolte
as Himself
Bruce Willis
as Himself
Paul Hewitt
as Jimmy Chase
Randall Batinkoff
as Reg Goldman
Frank Barhydt
as Frank Murphy
Mike E. Kaplan
as Marty Grossman
Kevin Scannell
as Gar Girard
Margery Bond
as Witness
Michael Tolkin
as Eric Schecter
Stephen Tolkin
as Carl Schecter
Pete Koch
as Walter
Steve Allen
as Himself
Karen Black
as Herself
Gary Busey
as Himself
James Coburn
as Himself
Steve James
as Himself
Brad Davis
as Himself
Paul Dooley
as Himself
Felicia Farr
as Herself
Kasia Figura
as Herself
Dennis Franz
as Himself
Teri Garr
as Herself
Scott Glenn
as Himself
Joel Grey
as Himself
Buck Henry
as Himself
Martin Mull
as Himself
Bert Remsen
as Himself
Guy Remsen
as Himself
Jack Riley
as Himself
Mimi Rogers
as Herself
Annie Ross
as Herself
Alan Rudolph
as Himself
Susan J. Emshwiller
as Detective Broom
Adam Simon
as Himself
Rod Steiger
as Himself
Brian Tochi
as Himself
Lily Tomlin
as Herself
Ray Walston
as Himself
Young M.C.
as Himself
Scott Shaw
as Himself (uncredited)
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News & Interviews for The Player

Critic Reviews for The Player

All Critics (62) | Top Critics (11)

  • Hilarious and deadly, this may be Altman's most completely realized film since his glory days in the '70s.

    Oct 18, 2008 | Full Review…

    David Ansen

    Top Critic
  • [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.

    Apr 28, 2008 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Apr 28, 2008 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

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

    Oct 23, 2004 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • 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 | Rating: 5/5
  • [Altman] sticks it to every target, himself and us included, with a wicked zest that hurts only when you laugh.

    Jun 6, 2001

Audience Reviews for The Player

Robert Altman uses his street cred to phone in a few favors, namely "will you be in my next film? You get to play yourself." There's a plot here, murder or something, some adultery, some lying, but it's way secondary to the taking of this over-an-hour-long Hollywood selfie that has so many cameos that you'll be wondering when a fresh face arrives onscreen if they're integral to the plot or simply another celeb strolling past the camera to wave at you. Behind the scenes, a idea for a film drama portraying "real life" is pitched, meant to have no stars in it at all to detract from focusing on the story. Guess what?

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

Doesn't start off well, but overall well played.

familiar stranger
familiar stranger

Super Reviewer


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.

Alex roy
Alex roy

Super Reviewer

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.

Chris Weber
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

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