A cringeworthy dating comedy

Even icon Andy Griffith, with Liz Sheridan, can't make "Play the Game" a winner.
Even icon Andy Griffith, with Liz Sheridan, can't make "Play the Game" a winner.
Posted: August 28, 2009

Always happy to see Andy Griffith, whether as the charismatic demagogue in A Face in the Crowd, the wise county sheriff Andy Taylor in his self-titled TV show, or the crusty septuagenarian in Waitress.

So I was looking forward to his role as the grieving widower in the intergenerational comedy Play the Game, in which a grandson (Paul Campbell) teaches Gramps (Griffith) how to score with "chicks."

Alas, the conceit of a double-dating Grandson and Gramps does not produce a great many laughs in this cringeworthy film costarring Doris Roberts and Marla Sokoloff as the comely Granny and Granddaughter in their sights.

Like a teenager who tarts up in slutwear so she can be perceived as a grown-up, Griffith plays a formerly wholesome senior who spouts urban slang so he will be perceived as with-it. Hearing Griffith's character extol his discovery of oral sex gave me vertigo. Surely, there is a way of expressing the joy of sex without the potty-mouthed dialogue that desecrates the persona of a television and movie icon.

And surely, there is a way of constructing a dating comedy that doesn't speak out of both sides of its mouth. Marc Fienberg's movie wants us to believe both that game-playing in courtship prevents the players from being truthful about their feelings, and that game-playing is inevitable because no man will commit from natural causes. Sheesh!


Contact movie critic Carrie Rickey at 215-854-5402 or crickey@phillynews.com.

Read her blog, "Flickgrrl," at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/flickgrrl/

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