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STUDIO: Phase 4 Films
RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes
• Deleted Scenes
• Theatrical Trailer
Andy Griffith! Sex! Andy Griffith having sex! This shit sells itself!
Starring: Andy Griffith, Paul Campbell, Marla Sokoloff, Liz Sheridan, Geoffrey Owens, Clint Howard, Rance Howard, Doris Roberts
Written and directed by Marc Fienberg
Cocky car salesman David (Campbell) is the man with the ladies. When his elderly grandfather, Joe (Griffith), comes to him for relationship help, David shows him how to play the game (oh yeah, that’s the title!) of picking up women. Joe catches on surprisingly quick, while David struggles with a tough-to-tame Julie (Sokoloff). As you can imagine, lessons are learned, hearts are broken, and 90 minutes of your life pass by when you could’ve been doing something way more productive with your time.
The age gap and initial weirdness about talking sex with his grandpa didn’t stop Yanks O’Tugagan from getting in a good jerk sesh.
Play the Game feels like it would’ve been right at home had it been released in the early 2000s, although it lacks the real hook that would’ve enticed either the seniors or the teenage crowds that this movie wants to cater to.
It plays like a more topical version of Van Wilder – which is saying a lot – minus the gross-out gags, where instead of the nerdy friend who needs lessons in love who then ends up teaching the stud more about love than he ever expected, it’s the guy’s grandpa who needs to get back on the horse.
Forgetting the dumb notion that Joe (Griffith) would ever seek out love advice from his cocky, self-absorbed grandson, David (Campbell), it might actually work if this shallow romp weren’t about ten years too late to the whole “player” bandwagon. Not that there aren’t those douchebags who still attempt to perfect the art of conning women into going to bed with them — as long as there are women who confuse sex with love, there will be the hollow human beings with penises who take advantage — but, it feels so dated to be portrayed in such a way. (Granted, yes, we’re only slightly removed from that ultimate d-bag Mystery being on TV, but still.)
“Who you callin’ psycho!? Oh, it’s just you, my dear. I’m sorry, I thought you were just a figment of my imagination. Oh wait…”
Just like the dapper don playboys of the 30s and 40s or the dangerous bad boys who happen to like to dance from the 70s and 80s, the cocky asshole with the closely cropped haircut and the nerdy sidekick that he treats terribly but who follows him around like he’s a god is an archetype of a past era, looking utterly ridiculous in this current age. The whole systematized way of picking up chicks feels old to me. And I don’t think that it’s just because I’m older now and no longer in the dating scene — the age of the you-hate-to-love-him dickhead with the heart of gold gave way to the resurgence of the nerds. Just look at the teen comedies of the past few years — Superbad, I Love You, Beth Cooper, Miss March, Sex Drive.
While Play the Game follows the standard formula of 1) boy meets girl, 2) boy lies to girl because he likes her — because that always works, 3) boy loses girl, 4) boy gets girl back (yay!) that offers no surprises, the unique angle is the parallel story line of Grandpa Joe. You see, Joe is old, lives in an assisted living home, and desperately misses his deceased wife. So naturally, he does what any 84-year-old widower would do: he enlists the help of his twentysomething grandson to help him meet chicks. And by chicks I mean elderly women living in his assisted living home.
Pappy was a true method actor, which may have not been the best move for his 90-year-old heart when he had to sink into the role of a drug-addicted, racially confused geriatric with a bad jones for heroin and pastel-colored sweatsuits.
Admittedly, it’s not an altogether terrible concept. At least they’re trying here with a new slant on the genre. As Grandpa Joe follows David’s scheme to meet women, he begins to enjoy the game of it, losing sight of his original goal of simply finding a companion. At the same time, David finds himself stuck prisoner within his own gameplaying as he toys with the girl of his dreams (Sokoloff), in too deep to just come out with his true feelings out of fear that she’ll bail. Lessons are learned and the true player is revealed. It all might have packed some punch if we were at all invested in these characters. I mean, watching this made me long for the emotional honesty of Ryan Reynold’s love for Tara Reid.
Now, I know these movies aren’t sold on their characters’ depth. I’m sure the hope was that watching the expression on the face of Andy Griffith — Mr. Squeaky Clean Sheriff of Mayberry Good Ole 1950s himself — as he gets a blowjob for the first time in his life would be gross-out comedic gold. But, it’s not. Even worse, it’s not even gross. It just is… And when it comes to teen comedies, you don’t want bland. Hell, you never want just bland in any movie.
The fabled “gums method” in all its hideously arousing glory.
Come to think of it, everything is bland in this movie. The direction, the acting, the lighting, the script. Even the welcomed appearance of Clint Howard couldn’t unbland this thing. It’s all extremely tame considering all the bodily fluids we’ve already seen in teen comedies by now — almost all the jokes relate to old people having sex, old people talking about sex, old people learning about sex, and old people wanting to have sex. The notion of ancient bodies getting it on isn’t appealing, but at the same time, it’s not the worst thing in the world.
But, perhaps that wasn’t the point. Perhaps the filmmakers were going for something more benign — the movie is PG-13, after all. Only if that were the case, and the main allure of the movie wasn’t the promise of endlessly inappropriate and shockingly funny scenes of old Grandpa Joe sleeping his way around the nursing home, then it would need to have a deeper story to engage audiences. Unfortunately, it didn’t have that either.
Fakest face pubes ever. But, boy, he sure looks heartbroken now, doesn’t he?
Play the Game isn’t the worst film of the genre we’ve seen in the past decade by any stretch — I’m looking at you Boys and Girls — but in trying to dabble in both raunchy comedy and heartfelt story, it ends up falling short on each account, leaving it an absolutely forgettable blip in the realm of teen comedies.
It’s what you’d expect from a lifeless teen-rom-com. It looks clinical — like paint-by-numbers filmmaking. There are outtakes and deleted scenes, none of which had any business being in the movie nor being worthwhile to add to a DVD other than to create the illusion of added value.
“You’re tearing me apart, Lisa!”