‘Play the Game’ is awkwardly charming, meaningful

Story Films

Andy Griffith and Liz Sheridan star in “Play the Game,” a senior-targeted comedy that opened Friday.

By Anthony Violanti
Staff writer

Published: Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 6:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 7:00 a.m.

A while back, I had a chance to interview Art Linkletter, 96, and the former radio and television personality talked about sex for the older generation.

 “Some people think that older people should forget about sex, but it’s not true,” Linkletter said. “People in their 70s and 80s should have a sex life. They should have sex at least once a week.”

Senior sex is the theme of Andy Griffith’s awkwardly charming movie, “Play The Game,” that opens this week. Griffith plays Grandpa Joe, a widower in a nursing home who, with a little advice from his grandson David (Paul Campbell) and some Viagra, rediscovers the joy and bewilderment of sex.

It’s a long way from Mayberry, but Griffith is a delight. So are Doris Roberts (“Everybody Loves Raymond”) as Rose, who puts the twinkle in Griffith’s eye, and Liz Sheridan (“Seinfeld”) as Edna.


Sheridan is the one who teams with Griffith in what is called “the sex scene.” Director/writer Marc Fienberg describes it as an 84-year-old man’s first sexual encounter in years. It’s relatively mild stuff by today’s standards and very funny.

A subplot in the film is young David’s search for true love. He likes to prowl for one-night stands, but that changes when he finds Julie, played by Maria Sokoloff.

Grandpa Joe helps set David straight.

“If you want to win the game of love,” he tells the younger man, “you shouldn’t play games with women.”

He adds that Julie “isn’t interested in the man you were, but the man you are.”

Underneath the sex farce, Griffith touches a nerve as an older man coping with loneliness, loss and living in a nursing home.

“I’m lost without her,” Griffith tells his grandson while speaking of his first wife who died a few years earlier. After a few failed attempts to find a relationship, Griffith says, “Getting hurt hurts. I’d rather be lonely.”

Eventually, Grandpa Joe gets his groove back, but the essence of this movie isn’t about old-timers jumping in bed. It’s something more meaningful.

“People our age have to live every second to the fullest,” Edna tells Grandpa.

That’s what playing the game is all about.

Play The Game

GRADE: ★★★½
STARS: Andy Griffith, Paul Campbell, Doris Roberts, Marla Sokoloff, Liz Sheridan
RATED: PG-13 (sexual content, language)
RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes
NOW PLAYING: The Rialto in The Villages

Contact Anthony Violanti at 867-4154 or anthony.violanti@starbanner.com.