Based on a true story, Play the Game explores the intricacies of dating relationships and the intergenerational similarities and differences perceived about them by young and old. First time director Marc Fienberg helped is grandfather get back into the dating scene after his grandfather’s wife (Marc’s grandmother) passed away. From this dynamic pairing of a twenty-something man giving dating tips to a man in his eighties, a storyline for a film was born.
Fienberg wrote, re-wrote, and polished the screenplay, honing the concept and ideas into a film that poses several sides of the argument about dating and its many perceptions. Those who read the screenplay for Play the Game encouraged Fienberg to direct the film himself. The process from initial idea to screen was twelve years in the making.
Taking the independent route and utilizing his degree and experience in the world of business, Fienberg started his own production company, Story Films, which enabled him to raise the money to make his first independent feature. He sent the screenplay out to the agents of many actors, one of which was the TV icon Andy Griffith.
Griffith read the script and excitedly accepted the role due to several scenes in the film that he had never been asked to do before. He jumped at the chance to undertake a role that had a level of edginess to it that fans of The Andy Griffith Show and Matlock had never seen him participate in.
The casting of Griffith as Grandpa Joe was a dream come true for Fienberg whose grandfather was a huge fan of the actor. As casting continued, other notable actors and actresses joined the project including Doris Roberts (Everybody Loves Raymond), Liz Sheridan (Seinfeld), Marla Sokoloff (Full House, The Practice), Geoffrey Owens (The Cosby Show), and Clint Howard (Austin Powers).
Rounding out the cast was leading man Paul Campbell (Battlestar Galactica) who delivers a multi-dimensional performance as David, a man who’s used to getting what he wants in regards to his job and women. As he begins to coach his grandfather in the finer points of modern dating, he discovers more about whom he really is on the inside and that a vapid outer existence isn’t always an attractive quality.
Fienberg did something that many first-time directors are afraid to do: he allowed his actors to act and do what came naturally after he called action. With veteran actors like Griffith, Roberts, and Sheridan in front of the camera, there was sense of relief as these seasoned performers delivered take after take.
Shot over the course of 25 days in Los Angeles, California, Play the Game delivers plenty of good-natured laughs and edgy humor that is sure to entertain both young and old. It’s nice to see actors like Andy Griffith on the big screen, especially doing and saying things you don’t expect to hear from the man who once played Sheriff Andy Taylor and lawyer Ben Matlock.
After a successful run in Florida, the film expands to theatres across the country on August 28, 2009. The official website, www.playthegamemovie.com, shows what cities the film will be screening in along with other information about the film. You can check out the official trailer at the end of this post.
On the official site, check out the “Fun Stuff” tab and click on Dancing Grandpa for a hilarious video of Andy Griffith bustin’ a move. Check back for our Dancing Grandpa Green Screen Challenge in the coming weeks along with a giveaway related to the film.
Writer/Director Marc Fienberg had two pieces of advice for all of us who aspire to be filmmakers. The first was “Just do it;” and the second “Don’t give up.” While one is the Nike slogan and the other may seem trite, they are both indispensible words of wisdom from someone who not only wanted to make movies, but actually did make a movie.
Play the Game is rated PG-13 for sexual content and language and may not be suitable for children.
Here’s the Official Trailer for Play the Game: