Andy Bockelman: ‘The Game Plan’ truly scores
Craig — The Disney family movie, “The Game Plan,” is a movie that winningly appeals to both football players and ballerinas simultaneously.
Quarterback Joe Kingman (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) is a phenomenal football star, but a horrible teammate. He devotes every second on the field to making himself look good. This balances out his home life where he has little companionship except for his loyal bulldog, Spike. Everything changes when he meets Peyton (Madison Pettis) his 8-year-old daughter he never knew existed.
He is reluctantly roped into taking care of her for a month while her mother is out of the country. For Joe, having a kid around is bad enough but Peyton quickly wears out her welcome by dressing Spike in a tutu, overflowing the bathtub with an ocean of bubbles, and just generally causing chaos in Joe’s rigidly structured life.
However, having to care for someone else may be just what Joe needs to learn – that not everything is about him in the game of life.
The Rock is more than agreeable in the lead role; the actor is starting to get out of his wrestling persona and using his charisma and million-dollar smile quite nicely. Giving him a run for his money is scene-stealer Pettis, adorable as precocious Peyton, who is named after Nobel Prize winner Peyton Rous, not Walter Payton as one character theorizes.
As for the rest of the cast, Kyra Sedgwick fits well as Joe’s snarky agent, Stella, and Roselyn Sanchez has nice appeal as Peyton’s ballet teacher, but Morris Chestnut is unfortunately all but banished to the sidelines as wide receiver and experienced family man Travis Sanders, who tries to advise Joe on fatherhood.
As far as the story goes, the usual patterns and running routes are followed to the letter. There hardly is anything that audiences did not see in “Three Men and a Baby,” “Big Daddy,” or the dozen other comedies of this nature. However, the movie remains endearing because of the genuinely good-natured aura that “The Rock” possesses.
Although few of the movies in which he has starred have been hugely memorable, he has really given some noteworthy performances in movies like “The Rundown,” “Be Cool” and “Walking Tall.”
The recent “Gridiron Gang” got him back into the realm of sports-themed movies, and with “The Game Plan,” the man reclaiming the name Dwayne Johnson has proven that he is effective in family entertainment, too.
Combined with the overwhelming cuteness of Pettis, it is hard to resist the team-up.
“The Game Plan” may be unbearably familiar in its plot, but the fresh performances of its stars are what truly score.
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