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Sunday, 14 October 2018

Retro Review: The Players Club (1998)

The Players Club
Cast: LisaRaye, Bernie Mac, Monica Calhoun, Ice Cube, Jamie Foxx, John Amos, Michael Clarke Duncan, Terrence Howard, Charlie Murphy
Genre: Comedy Drama
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $23 million

Plot: A mother must contend with rival strippers and her boss in an attempt to make a legitimate living

'Don't Wanna Be A Player, No More'

Watching The Players Club, it certainly reminds me of a bit of Striptease with a bit of Showgirls.

Diana is a single mother with kids to feed who has aspirations in becoming a broadcast journalist and studies at college. In order to help pay her college fees, Diana turns to stripping. She works at a club owned by Hustler Bill (Bernie Mac) and tries to keep it a secret from everyone outside the club, especially her college professor. When Diana discovers her young and easily impressionable cousin is also working at the same strip joint, a bunch of people lead her onto a life of prostitution. Diana has to overcome the hurdles of this new life, whilst trying to balance her academic studies as a student.

Minus the stripping and violent scenes, random scenes where nothing of particular interest happens, The Players Club is a huge disappointment. Director Ice Cube's take on gang mentality and culture is just not gritty at all and the way it comes across feels unrealistic and isn't hard-hitting enough. Cube also wrote, produces and acts in the film with the clunky dialogue and the story is flawed throughout, lacking in real drama and was difficult to follow at times. When it tries to tackle the other characters' subplots, most of them don't really lead to anywhere. Lisa Raye's performance is good, but her character, Diana mostly functions as a set-up to the story and so when the film tries to present her journey from A to B, it felt incomplete and not thorough enough.

The humour just didn't work and most of the moments were a dud when they ought to have been even more hard-hitting with more punch. 

Jamie Foxx tries to breathe some life into the film with his performance, but his role is not only too brief, it just wasn't as meaty and substantial as I'd liked it to have been. 

Final Verdict:

A Black version of what is essentially Paul Verhoeven's Showgirls and Striptease that came a year after, but much like with the latter, The Players Club struggles to balance the tone of comedy and drama. It's mildly interesting, but it and its story just didn't offer a whole lot more to make it fully entertaining and engaging. 

The Players Club is the Black Striptease, and just as bland and unengaging. 


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