Sunday, July 14, 2024

“ROLE PLAY”

THE STORY – A young married couple’s life turns upside down after secrets are revealed about each other’s past.

THE CAST – Kaley Cuoco, David Oyelowo, Rudi Dharmalingam, Connie Nielsen & Bill Nighy

THE TEAM – Thomas Vincent (Director) & Seth Owen (Writer)

THE RUNNING TIME – 101 Minutes


Everyone wants to have it all: the successful job, the longtime partner, the 2.5 kids, and the white picket fence. That’s not too much, right? One may say Emma (Kaley Cuoco) has it all: a prosperous career, a wonderful husband, Dave (David Oyelowo), two happy children, and a lovely house in the suburbs of New Jersey. But she also has a secret: that prosperous career is being an assassin for hire. The best assassin for hire, actually, so much so that her bounty is currently skyrocketing.

In a healthy effort to spice things up in the marriage, Emma and Dave decide to spend a night in New York City and roleplay as strangers. But during the night, Emma’s cover gets exposed. Unbeknownst to him, Dave is concerned about being involved in a murder investigation as Emma quickly leaves “on a business trip” in order to figure out what is transpiring. This leaves the authorities to get to Dave and expose him to his wife’s double life.

The female-led spy and assassin subgenre is an incredibly mixed bag. There are more failures than successes, and stories are prone to be over-the-top and flashy and hinder on the character’s sexuality. Thankfully, “Role Play” is not one of these. Even with an R rating, the film isn’t seeped in the male gaze or inherently violent. The action sequences are fun but not inherently justifiable for an R rating. Mixing an assassin in the comedy genre is also usual since their world is anything but funny. But adding the fish-out-of-water element of Dave, who suddenly finds himself in a serious and dangerous world, is entertaining. Cuoco does bring her naturally comedic energy to the film but is also challenged by Emma, who has a fair share of dramatic moments. The comedy mainly comes from Dave adjusting to Emma’s world and the banter of the couple, which is enjoyable since audience members can relate to a couple panicking in a stressful moment.

“Role Play” features all of the fun elements one would expect from an assassin or spy film. There are wigs, quick changes, hidden messages, and amusing chase sequences. Fans of the subgenre will be happy. But the film doesn’t add anything new or exciting to the genre as it plays with the familiar beats and expectations. While one has seen these elements on a much better and bigger scale, director Thomas Vincent also does them well for a straight-to-streaming original movie.

However, “Role Play” does struggle with its overall tone. Again, mixing the character of an assassin with the genre of comedy is difficult. Some scenes are serious, some are campy, and some are dramatic. There is little throughline with all of these tonal shifts. This results in some actors playing their characters in a fully campy way, while others are playing characters in a slap-stick comedy. It is difficult to see all these characters existing in the same world. Cuoco does her best at the glue by constantly matching her scene partner, but the script never decides what genre it wants to inhabit.

It is the third act where the film makes a sharp turn into drama and attempts to address common themes within the assassin genre. While these are interesting and compelling themes to explore, discussing them in a fully dramatic way in a film that was inherently comedic and campy at first doesn’t entirely work. Therefore, the villain doesn’t match the tone of the act, which results in a boring motive. Additionally, with a runtime of 101 minutes, there simply isn’t enough time for the film to be a fun and quirky couples’ comedy and dramatic assassin story.

“Role Play” is nothing new. Audiences have seen films like it before, and it doesn’t add anything new to the genre. But it is overall an entertaining movie. It is a harmless and cute addition to the spy subgenre that will make a cute pick for an at-home date night.

THE RECAP

THE GOOD - An overall entertaining action comedy that is supported by Kaley Cuoco and David Oyelowo's performances and chemistry.

THE BAD - The villain is bland and forgetful. Predictable plot points. The film takes a sharp turn in the third act, which tonally doesn't match the rest of the film.

THE OSCARS - None

THE FINAL SCORE - 6/10

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Lauren LaMagna
Lauren LaMagnahttps://nextbestpicture.com
Assistant arts editor at Daily Collegian. Film & TV copy editor.

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Latest Reviews

<b>THE GOOD - </b>An overall entertaining action comedy that is supported by Kaley Cuoco and David Oyelowo's performances and chemistry.<br><br> <b>THE BAD - </b>The villain is bland and forgetful. Predictable plot points. The film takes a sharp turn in the third act, which tonally doesn't match the rest of the film.<br><br> <b>THE OSCARS - </b>None <br><br> <b>THE FINAL SCORE - </b>6/10<br><br>"ROLE PLAY"