“Step 1: Reconnaissance. First you need to identify your target.”
If you are a regular reader here, you likely know that I have a fondness for Andy Griffith. I recently watched and reviewed in these pages one of his earlier comedy films, and rather enjoyed the old simple rural comedy. That’s what makes this one so painful to write about. I think that Andy Griffith missed the boat when he was targeting the audience for his latest comedy, the sexually charged Play The Game. I’m going to just admit up front that this movie made me feel very uncomfortable. I think that many of Griffith’s fans might have the same problem. There are just some actors, particularly ones in their 80’s, that I don’t want to hear talking about their sexual function, let alone watch having sex. Andy Griffith would be at the top of that list, and I suspect I’m not alone there. But, that’s exactly what you’re getting into if you decide to pop this one into your DVD player. This will not be like anything else you’ve ever seen this particular actor do before, and hopefully I never will again. This is strictly for the adults. I’d say the over 95 crowd.
“Step 2: The Approach. You have to meet her, or more accurately, you have her meet you. Planned spontaneity, that’s the name of the game.”
David Mitchell (Campbell) is a self-professed “player”. He works selling cars at his father’s dealership, and he’s a natural. He uses those same skills to play the ladies to the amazement of his friends, who often live vicariously through his exploits. He also cares for his grandpa Joe (Griffith) who he has put up at a fancy retirement community since his grandmother passed away two years ago. David’s father is estranged from Joe, so it’s really up to David to take care of him. The problem is that Joe is lonely and can’t stand to go on living that way. He wants to find companionship… a lady friend. So, he turns to grandson David for advice to find one. But Joe and David have very different ideas about what they want in a lady. David just wants sex. Joe wants someone to be there to hold hands with. So David’s going to take Joe out to a club for a few lessons in getting the babes.
“Step 3: The Build-Up. You’ve got to get her interested in you.”
This film takes an unusual path to try to get our interest. Once Joe finds out about Viagra, he suddenly becomes a little more like David. He starts trolling for action and finds it in Edna. Here’s where the whole thing gets more than a little uncomfortable for me. Not only does Joe talk a lot about his erections, but we’re “treated” to a bedroom scene where Edna works hard to please Joe in ways he’s never experienced before. Maybe the reason I’m writing this review in the middle of the night is because there’s a couple of images I really want to get out of my head before I close my eyes again. Now, Joe really wants to hook up with Rose (Roberts), but she already has a tough-looking boyfriend.
“Step 4: The Follow-Through. If things don’t go well that night, always have some reason to see her again.”
The backup here is that while Joe is getting a little more like David, David meets the girl of his dreams and suddenly wants a woman for more than a one-nighter. He meets Julie (Sokoloff) who is everything he wants in a woman. Unfortunately, none of his mojo appears to be working. Without giving too much away, the reason for the problem is quite predictable. This part of the film plays out more like your traditional romantic comedy and could have been an entertaining film without Griffith’s dirty-old-man conversion.
The cast is fine here. Marla Sokoloff is quite charming in her own way. Paul Campbell comes off as a bit of a turd, but that’s how he’s supposed to look to us. Everybody Loves Raymond’s favorite meddling mother, Doris Roberts, is also rather charming as Rose, the true object of Joe’s desires. You can’t really fault the cast here. It looks like they had a lot of fun. It’s just so dang awkward, is all.
“Step 5: The Groucho Effect. Groucho Marx once said that he wouldn’t belong to a club that would have him as a member. If you show interest in a girl too soon, if she gets into the club too easily, she thinks she could do better.”
The box art for the DVD shows a few film festival awards the movie has earned. Two of them are Florida film festivals. I suspect that the only “club” this film will get into and thrive in is the retirement communities. I’m going to assume that the “gross” factor wouldn’t apply under those circumstances. Since I have a few years before I start to pursue memberships in those communities, I think I’ll put this one on the shelf for … oh, I don’t know …. 43 years and give it another look then. If I’m lucky, if I’m very lucky, I won’t have anything that will play the disc at that time, or maybe I’ll have forgotten where I put it. They do tell me that ignorance is bliss.
Play The Game is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1. This is a pretty average image presentation. Colors appear quite natural. Flesh tones are particularly accurate. Black levels are fair, but this is a bright film, for the most part. The print is in very good condition, and there is no serious compression issue.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 is very much dialog driven. There isn’t anything in the way of surrounds or ambient sounds here. There really isn’t any call for it on such a straightforward comedy.
Additional Footage: There are both Deleted Scenes and Outtakes.
I suspect that this was really intended as a rather harmless little fun for Griffith. I also figure that he might be a little bored with that whole clean wholesome thing he’s had going for him for the last 60 years. I can understand that, a little. But, this one doesn’t appear poised to win him any new fans and could offend more than a few of the older ones. “It’s a bit of a gamble.”