Articles: Robert Townsend stars in his first romantic role




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By Samantha Ofole-Prince/Photos courtesy of RLJ Entertainment

Robert Townsend stars as a Coach Banks

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, comes this romantic charmer that’s certain to delight audiences. While many romance movies are difficult for men to watch, “Playin’ for Love” goes a long way into drawing men into this ‘chick flick’ genre by incorporating an underlying sports theme.

In the film, Robert Townsend plays Coach Banks, a successful basketball coach who has led the high school team to numerous victories. The game is his passion and he’s used to calling all the shots in both his professional and personal life. It all changes when Talisa McCoy (Salli Richardson-Whitfield), the mother of his new star player, challenges his professional tactics. Not one to be pushed around, he initially dismisses the strong-willed single mother’s ideas, but is soon forced to adopt them when he finds his star player won’t play against her command.

Salli Richardson-Whitfield

Townsend is extremely deft with his cast, coaxing appealing performances and the characters are as real as they come, from the cynic Alize (Jenifer Lewis of ”Black-ish”) to Talisa’s adorable kids who pull you instantly into the story. There is also great on-screen chemistry between Richardson-Whitfield and Townsend and you’d be hard pressed to come up with a more likable couple. It’s also nice to see Townsend (best known for directing the films “Hollywood Shuffle,”  “The Five Heartbeats” Eddie Murphy’s “Raw”) in a romantic lead role.

.Jenifer Lewis

The title is apt and there are laughs when they both clash in the first few scenes. Talisa is bold, brash and persistent as she lectures Coach on his court tactics and although he politely listens at first, he soon orders her out his office after her overbearing manner starts to irk him. They both soon learn each other’s very different skill set, and eventually opposites finally attract.

It’s a predictable mature Cinderella tale of finding love in the unlikeliest of places and Townsend, who also serves as director,  producer and co-writer, delivers a simple love story about two experienced adults.

With charismatic performances, “Playin’ for Love” is satisfyingly engaging.

The film, which made its streaming premiere on UMC – Urban Movie Channel is now available on Digital Video and on DVD for an SRP of $27.97.

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