Play the Game -- Film Review

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Close your eyes. Now, imagine your grandparents having sex.

That is roughly akin to the effect of "Play the Game," a cringe-worthy comedy about multigenerational romantic gameplaying that offers the dubiously entertaining prospect of watching Andy Griffith receiving oral sex.

Although the film -- receiving a limited national release following engagements in, where else, South Florida --undeniably offers cheap laughs, its most receptive audiences will likely be found in retirement-community auditoriums.

The comedy depicts the efforts of car salesman lothario David (Paul Campbell) to woo Julie (Marla Sokoloff), the prospective woman of his dreams, while simultaneously attempting to reintroduce his widowed 84-year-old grandpa Joe (Griffith) to the dating scene.

When David's time-tested stratagems result in one strikeout after another, Joe -- thanks to the miracle of Viagra -- becomes an octogenarian Don Juan, and hilarity ensues.

There's plenty of genuine humor to be mined from the subject of senior sex, as "The Boynton Beach Club" demonstrated, but debuting director-writer Marc Fienberg never establishes a coherent tone. Veering wildly from ribald slapstick to failed attempts at sophisticated romantic comedy and genuine emotion, "Game" only succeeds in stripping its younger and older characters of any dignity.

Griffith certainly gives it his all, and it's a novel experience listening to him deliver lines like "Grandpa's horny and he wants to have fun!" But despite the veteran actor's good-humored willingness to have fun, the role comes as a real letdown after his fine work in the recent "Waitress."

Campbell and Sokoloff are too bland to make us sufficiently engaged in their characters' courtship, and Liz Sheridan (Jerry's mom in "Seinfeld") garners some genuine laughs as the free-spirited sexpot who reintroduces Joe to the joys of sex.

Opens: Friday, Aug. 28 (Slowhand Releasing)
Production: Story Films
Cast: Paul Campbell, Andy Griffith, Doris Roberts, Marla Sokoloff, Liz Sheridan
Director-screenwriter-producer: Marc Fienberg
Executive producer: A. Charles Funai, Jim Rose, Eva Gordon
Director of photography: Gavin Kelly
Editor: Kimberly Generous White
Production designer: Chris Anthony Miller
Costume designer: Laura Brody
Music: Jim Latham
Rated PG-13, 105 min.
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