Game Plan, The (2007)
Release Date: September 28th, 2007 MPAA Rating: PG
Director: Andy Fickman Actors: Dwayne Johnson, Madison Pettis, Kyra Sedgwick, Roselyn Sanchez, Morris Chestnut, Hayes MacArthur, Paige Turco, Gordon Clapp, Kate Nuata, Lauren Storm
he passable but unextraordinary next in a line of sports-fueled family comedies, “The Game Plan” showcases some amusing humor and heartwarming drama, but the mixture of components just isn’t harmonious enough. The result is a film that appears markedly split down the center, with the quarterback seemingly playing an entirely different game in the second half. It’s no less child-oriented, but certainly lagging in style, cohesiveness, and cleverness.
Extremely egotistical star quarterback Joe Kingman (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) thinks only of himself in every aspect of his life. Even the team sport that he professes to love above all else finds him hogging the spotlight, pursuing only the courses of action that best boost his own fame. But his spoiled and shallow existence suddenly changes when sassy eight-year-old girl Peyton (Madison Pettis) shows up at his doorstep, claiming to be his daughter…
At first a stereotypical, self-centered, and selfish celebrity athlete, Kingman is forced to adapt to a lifestyle more suitable to his newfound pride and joy. His transition is carefully mapped, catering to Johnson’s real-life shift in interests, particularly when it comes to raising a family that might not find value in projects like “Doom.” Fortunately, his comedy turns have become more wholesome and appealing than his action movie efforts, not unlike Schwarzenegger’s transition from over-the-top violence to adolescent-minded fare. Though he’ll probably head back into the heavier-hitting action realm for which he’s so physically cut out, Johnson’s present angle as the generally jolly good guy thrown into the arena of lighthearted debacles is pleasantly appropriate.
Roselyn Sanchez, playing love interest Monique, is also better-than-average in a relatively generic role that can never quite make it into the spotlight, thanks to a focus on the precocious little Peyton. Other supporting characters, most of which have no major resonance, are mainly used for comedy relief, except for Joe’s agent Stella (Kyra Sedgwick), who is grossly unnecessary and overwhelmingly dislikable. Whether or not she was intended to generate laughs, she somehow manages not only to muster zero humor from the script, but she also remains detestable to the very end.
Although “The Game Plan” contains a healthy dose of childish humor and morally commendable drama, they’re clearly divided between the two halves of the picture. After displaying the hollowly extravagant lifestyle of Kingman, he’s given the fish-out-of-water treatment, bringing plenty of laughs and comically awkward scenarios as the unprepared footballer tackles fatherhood. But shortly after the high point of immaturity, with Joe pirouetting in an elaborate ballet performance, the mood abruptly shifts to melodrama, with numerous, tearjerker curveballs sharply bringing down the levity. Nevertheless, by the end, even with rough transitions between acts and its ability to be overly preachy at times and mushy at others, “The Game Plan” boasts enough comedy to get by (including overlapping ballet/football montages, an unhealthy Elvis infatuation, and stabs at celebrity vapidness), ensuring reasonable entertainment for its target audience.
– The Massie Twins