Plays it very safe with a young-dog-teaches-old-dog-new-tricks concept that has Andy Griffith's octogenarian widower coached back into the dating world by his grandson.

“Play the Game” plays it very safe with a young-dog-teaches-old-dog-new-tricks concept that has Andy Griffith’s octogenarian widower coached back into the dating world by his grandson. Blandly crafted, sitcom-toned debut feature for writer-helmer-producer Marc Fienberg did well during test engagements in retiree-heavy Florida earlier this year. Opening in a dozen markets nationwide Aug. 28, it might struggle to keep screens long enough to attract the same senior demo. Ancillary prospects are solid.

Despondent since his wife passed away, retiree Joe (Griffith) wants companionship but has no idea how to find it. Full of largely inappropriate advice on that subject is self-described “chick magnet” David (Paul Campbell), who applies the same hard-sell techniques to womanizing that he does to selling cars. Joe gets introduced to the wonders of Viagra by lusty retirement-community neighbor Edna (Liz Sheridan). But he’s got his eye on Rose (Doris Roberts), whose own grandchild Julie (Marla Sokoloff) proves the Miss Right whom David must ultimately change his callow ways to win. The comedy’s broad perfs, predictable story beats and pro but characterless packaging have a smallscreen feel.

Play the Game

Production

A Slowhand Cinema Releasing release of a Story Films presentation. Produced by Marc Fienberg. Executive producers, A. Charles Funai, Jim Rose, Eva Gordon. Co-producer, Jennifer Schaefer. Directed, written by Marc Fienberg.

Crew

Camera (color), Gavin Kelly; editor, Kimberly Generous White; music, Jim Latham; production designer, Chris Anthony Miller. Reviewed at Embarcadero Cinemas, San Francisco, Aug. 19, 2009. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 105 MIN.

With

Paul Campbell, Andy Griffith, Doris Roberts, Marla Sokoloff, Liz Sheridan, Clint Howard, Rance Howard, Geoffrey Owens, Juliette Jeffers.

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