Review | Play the Game (PG-13) **

The same old story gets played by the older set.

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Paul Campbell and Andy Griffith throw out some lines in <em>Play the Game</em>.

Paul Campbell and Andy Griffith throw out some lines in Play the Game.


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In Play the Game, a young playboy learns the value of holding a woman's hand, and an old man discovers the joys and perils of retirement-community booty calls. Women of all ages learn that men are generally idiots but can be easily manipulated. And the audience learns that making even the slightest romantic comedy is apparently a lot more difficult than it seems.

One should applaud filmmaker Marc Feinberg for including a December romance, as romcoms generally are the domain of the young, and he gets points for including one unexpected twist. But otherwise, Play the Game is as painfully obvious as movies get, a well-worn story that seems cobbled together from every romantic cliché known to film or sitcom.

Car salesman David (Paul Campbell) is a player. This information is easy to glean, as other characters -- in particular David's envious, married best friend who suffers from Shrewish Wife Syndrome -- mention it frequently. (The phrase ''play the game'' is likewise repeated ad nauseam.) We know David is essentially a good guy, though, because he visits his grandpa Joe (Andy Griffith) in the retirement home, even though his materialistic dad (Clint Howard) ignores the old man.

Grandpa, a widower, is depressed and longs for a companion, so David sets out to teach him how to pick up women. Grandpa has his eye on Rose (Doris Roberts), but she has a boyfriend. Meanwhile -- raise your hand if you saw this one coming -- David meets a girl he


can't snare with his tired routine and recognizes for the first time the importance of finding true love.


The humor is predictable: Joe, after hearing he should hang out where women congregate, lurks outside the ladies' room, and one eager date slips some Viagra into his wine. Anybody familiar with Mayberry R.F.D. can be forgiven for being slightly squeamish about watching Griffith marvel over an erection; it's positively undignified. Joe is such a sitcomish role that it almost makes us forget Griffith's surprisingly sly work in Waitress as a customer devoted to Keri Russell's pies -- and to helping her turn her life around.

Play the Game, on the other hand, serves up no specials. It serves up exactly what you expect: the same old thing.

Cast: Paul Campbell, Andy Griffith, Doris Roberts, Marla Solokoff.

Director/screenwriter/producer: Marc Feinberg.

A Story Films release. Running time: 105 minutes. Sexual content, language. Playing at: area theaters.