Play the Game (PG-13) (105 min.) — Watching Andy Griffith being sexually pleasured — even faked on film — never ranked high on my bucket list. Aunt Bee would certainly disapprove of his Viagra-fueled friskiness in Marc Fienberg's film, which is getting limited release in areas like ours where senior citizens gravitate.
That audience is where Play the Game is directly aimed, since such broadly drawn characters and twists can be easily found on basic cable sitcoms before bedtime. Fienberg's movie may as well schedule matinees only.
Griffith plays Grandpa Joe, a widower in an assisted living center whose successful grandson, David (Paul Campbell), often visits. David is a ladies' man willing to teach his grandfather how to seduce women, but Joe's loyalty to his departed wife gets in the way. Meanwhile, David's guidelines of romance don't work with Julie (Marla Sokoloff), whose grandmother Rose (Doris Roberts) lives at the center.
Joe likes Rose but gets set up with Edna (Liz Sheridan), a hot-blooded septuagenarian slipping her date a Viagra mickey. Golly and shazam, Joe is surprised by his first erection in decades, then shocked at how Edna responds. The scene is handled discreetly, with only Griffith's exaggerated expressions and groans suggesting what's happening. But it plays more like burlesque than romantic comedy.
Like any sitcom, everything works out sweetly by the end credits, no matter how many problems pop up along the way. Griffith gets credit for gameness but his rascally performance in Waitress is a grander reminder that he's working until the end. C
Steve Persall, Times film critic