Judge David Johnson liked this movie better the first time he saw it, when it was called "Every Other Movie About an Immature Guy Who Has to Grow Up Because of His Nauseatingly Cute Bastard Child."
Our review of The Game Plan (Blu-Ray), published January 22nd, 2008, is also available.
Joe Kingman had the perfect game plan to win the championship…but first, he has to tackle one little problem.
What happens when a self-obsessed stud football player meets his daughter for the first time? A whole lot of learning. Oh yes.
Facts of the Case
All-pro quarterback Joe Kingman (Dwayne Johnson, The Rundown) has devoted his life to himself and his quest for football immortality. Though a championship has long eluded him, that doesn't stop him from rejoicing in his own attributes, which often rubs his teammates the wrong way. But one day his world is flipped around when a young girl named Peyton (Madison Pettis) shows up at his door claiming she's his daughter.
From that point on Big Daddy, er, The Game Plan, goes into clueless-jock-turned-loving-father overdrive as Joe learns the ups and downs of fatherhood, and how it's real tough to be the centerpiece of a cliché-ridden, unfunny excuse for a family movie.
Ugh, no more please. There needs to come a time—some day soon hopefully—when big movie studios will become more discerning about what they cobble together, slap a PG rating on, and vomit forth to the unsuspecting masses, trying to sell this half-baked, half-assed tripe as a "family comedy." Well, The Game Plan is for families, and certainly is clean and inoffensive, but when you get to the "comedy" part of that genre labeling, that's where I disembark.
Kids will probably laugh while watching the little girl having a protein shake blow up in her face, the stupid offensive lineman getting blasted with an over-carbonated can of Coke, Kyra Sedgwick farting, or The Rock diving headfirst into a flood of bubbles, but little kids are easily amused. If this doesn't sound amusing to you, the bad news is you'll suffer even more because the comedy just goes downhill from there.
As the film lumbers along, flailing wildly, desperate to connect with anything resembling real humor, charm and the heartfelt emotion infiltrates the script in, what I presume is, an attempt to distract from the lameness of the slapstick and joke-telling. As you can probably judge by my mood, I didn't take too well to this aspect of the film either. The back 10 minutes or so are okey-dokey when it comes to the melodrama, with Kingman of course realizing that his daughter is the best thing that ever happened to him and that he's been a selfish jackass for all of this life and that wide receiver on his team that he never passed to is actually a pretty cool guy and jeez maybe he should get a ball or two thrown in his way, perhaps in the championship game to clinch the victory! But even at it's most effective emotional level The Game Plan is merely mediocre. At its least effective, the movie is more syrupy than a shootout at Denny's.
The Rock is okay, but one-dimensional. He smirks and smiles and does his flamboyant thing, but the performance quickly slides into grating territory. I like the guy, but think his niche is action films. And I don't like picking on little girls, but Madison Pettis doesn't have the skills to pay the bills. She's cute though, and I guess that's all that is asked of her.
Video (2.35:1) and audio (5.1 surround) are up to snuff. On the technical end, The Game Plan delivers, looking clean and sounding swell. The extras are cheesy. Marv Albert play-by-plays the blooper reel, and that's a disaster, the ESPN fictional documentary is clever for 30 seconds, the set-top activities are bland (to me, but kids probably won't mind) and the traditional supplemental material—The Rock learning how to play quarterback and a behind-the-scenes featurette—are short and unimpressive.
Unfunny and contrived, this family film is a fat disappointment. We'll see if The Rock can bounce back.
Toss away this Game Plan.
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