The Game Plan

Ron Phillips/Disney Enterprises

Review in a Hurry:  Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson plays rock-star quarterback Joe Kingman, whose world gets rocked when the daughter he never knew existed suddenly appears at his doorstep. This innocuous family fare will probably appeal to wee ones who haven't been fed enough of this formula. But I wanted to spit up a little.

The Bigger Picture:  Following in the 14EE footsteps of Arnold Schwarzenegger (Kindergarten Cop) and Vin Diesel (The Pacifier), Johnson gives us another comedy about a hard-bodied, career-minded guy who's softened by those irritating but ultimately irresistible kiddies. Displaying a good bit of charisma, Johnson scores points for being game enough to take pratfalls and sport ballet tights, but Game is way too by-the-playbook to be winning.

Kingman plays for the Rebels, Boston's pro football team, and they're hoping to finally win the championship title. All smiles and swagger, this cocksure dude has an Elvis obsession (a hunk of, hunk of burning contrivance) and lives the ultimate bachelor fantasy—parties, ladies, cars and cash. Yet, gosh golly, something still seems to be missing.

Eight-year-old Peyton (Madison Pettis) arrives on cue, claiming to be Kingman's kid by his ex-wife, who's traveling abroad and can't be reached. To serve as comic foil, this wide-eyed moppet is typically precocious, loves ballet and classical music and all things pink and pretty.

In lieu of much story development, Game strings together schticky scenes (with wacky accidents!) of Kingman balancing his football lifestyle with being a dad. He gives up his bedroom, takes Peyton to dance lessons, chaperones a shopping party, etc. Even his dog has to wear a tutu! Will Kingman fumble this new father role? Or will the big galoot learn what's really important? And will his team win that coveted championship? Will they?

The real question is why this predictable flick, directed by Andy Fickman (She's the Man—ugh), clocks in at 110 minutes instead of 90, strolling into the end zone instead of sprinting. Game over couldn't come soon enough.

The 180—a Second Opinion:  As Peyton's feisty dance teacher, Roselyn Sanchez heats things up. She convinces Kingman that ballet is as athletic as football, if not more so. Their burgeoning pas de deux makes for a standard subplot, but it's refreshing in a pseudosports movie to see ballet presented as a really cool thing. Even Kingman's teammates leap to their feet after the entrancing production at Sanchez's school. Not a bad, um, pointe.
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share