Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is a likeable enough actor, but a clichéd family film like The Game Plan—however integral to his career strategy of appealing to the widest demographic spectrum possible—puts that charm to the test. A remixed version of Elvis’s “Rubberneckin’” is an apt credit sequence number, since the movie is itself a similarly trivial, jazzed-up version of a standard—in this case, the tried-and-true “manly man and a little kid” formula. Johnson is Joe Kingman, the self-centered star quarterback for the Boston Rebels who has everything money could buy except the type of love that his teammate (Morris Chestnut) receives from his wife and children. Despite boasting and spouting catchphrases like a grinning idiot, Joe is, at heart, a lonely egomaniac, a situation that changes when the daughter he never knew he had, Peyton (Madison Pettis), appears on his doorstep and claims that she’s his responsibility. Joe’s subsequent misadventures in parenting quickly land him in the tabloids and threaten to botch the lucrative business deals devised by his greedy agent (Kyra Sedgwick). But there’s absolutely nothing threatening about The Game Plan, which, thanks to Andy Fickman’s blandly serviceable direction of conventional music montages and clunky game sequences, is less gridiron-tough than stuffed animal-soft. Once the premise, which also includes a subplot about Joe’s budding relationship with Peyton’s ballet teacher (Roselyn Sanchez), is firmly established, one could watch the proceedings in fast-forward without missing much. In fact, there are so many superfluous gags padding out the 113-minute runtime that it’s hard deciding which (bubble bath overflow, universal remote mishap, pranks with a bedazzler, bulldog in a tutu) most deserve to be excised. Peyton repeatedly objects to Joe endorsing a fast food chain that, according to her mother, gives kids gas and makes them fat. The Game Plan’s familiar brand of heartwarming comedy won’t similarly upset stomachs, but the fact that Sedgwick verifies the food’s nasty gastronomic effects by ripping off a loud, squishy fart—in the process sullying whatever respect she’d garnered for The Closer—does make one suspect she’s gone a bit fat in the head.
- Andy Fickman
- Nichole Millard, Kathryn Price
- Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Madison Pettis, Kyra Sedgwick, Roselyn Sanchez, Morris Chestnut, Hayes MacArthur, Brian J. White
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