THE GAME PLAN
*** (out of 5)
September 28, 2007
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as JOE KINGMAN
Madison Pettis as PEYTON KELLY
Kyra Sedgwick as STELLA PECK
Roselyn Sanchez as MONIQUE VASQUEZ
Morris Chestnut as TRAVIS SANDERS
Directed by: Andy Fickman
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
There seems to be a certain career path that muscle-bound heavies take. First, they come onto the scene as a villain, as Arnold Schwarzenegger did in “The Terminator.” Then, they step up to the action hero, as Schwarzenegger did with films like “Commando.” Then, they do the fish-out-of-water family comedy, as Schwarzenegger did with “Kindergarten Cop.”
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson emerged from the WWE to be the villain in “The Mummy Returns,” then he became the action hero. Now is his time to do the family comedy with “The Game Plan.”
In this film, The Rock plays Joe Kingman, one of the most popular characters in professional football. He’s at the top of his career, hoping to finally go to the championship game. However, one day a distraction lands on his doorstep – literally. A young girl named Peyton Kelly (Madison Pettis) shows up to announce that she’s the daughter he didn’t know he had.
Suddenly, Joe’s life is swept into chaos. He tries to maintain his hip, popular bachelor life while taking care of his newly found daughter over the next few weeks. This puts a strain on his game as well as his personal life. However, Peyton’s got a heart of gold and shows him the joys of parenting.
Walt Disney Studios has a grand tradition of both family films and inspirational sports movies. While “The Game Plan” goes more for the family than the sports crowd, it does offer a little something for everyone. In short, the dads in the family aren’t going to cringe throughout the movie as they might have done during “High School Musical 2.”
Still, it’s best to look at “The Game Plan” as a big screen version of something made for the Disney Channel – only with The Rock instead of Zac Efron. If you’re into this sort of family fare, you will probably really enjoy the film. On the other hand, if you’re waiting with baited breath for the next “Saw” film, you might want to pass.
Over the past few years, the Rock has been hit-and-miss with his films. For every “Gridiron Gang,” there’s a “Rundown.” He hasn’t become as big as Schwarzenegger (figuratively, at least), but he’s probably the only pumped-up action star out there that comes close to his charisma.
Having seen The Rock do some entertaining diversions from his standard character, most notably a hilarious bit part in “Be Cool” (which was the only thing worthwhile in that film, by the way), it’s clear the guy has talent beyond being able to throw a football or hit a guy in the back of the head with a folding chair. He brings a lot of heart to this film.
The only real weak link in the film, if you can get past the overly formulaic story, is Roselyn Sanchez as Peyton’s ballet teacher and Joe’s love interest. As appealing as Sanchez is to watch on screen, her character is dull and flat, even if she is not.
The rest of the cast works as well. Young Madison Pettis, who is seen regularly on the Disney Channel’s “Corey in the House,” gives a more polished performance than she does on television. She’s got a career ahead of her as long as she doesn’t become obnoxious like Raven or psychotic like Lindsay Lohan.