Walt Disney's The Game Plan is arriving on DVD after a very successful box office run, and thankfully the film has enough to offer families. Cute enough for children and sweet enough for parents, The Game Plan is an easy choice for a winter purchase or rental.
Of course, The Game Plan isn't anything spectacular. The story is about as original as you'd expect from a PG-rated sports movie, though thanks to the chemistry of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and young Madison Pettis, it is an enjoyable unoriginal story. The movie is about a star professional quarterback who suddenly learns that he has a daughter named Peyton. Amidst a potential championship playoff run (the movie clearly isn't endorsed by the NFL as the team of choice is the Boston Rebels and there's no reference to the Superbowl), this new daughter adds unexpected complications to his so-called "perfect life" - though as you might expect, he soon realizes that his life was far from it without someone else to care about.
The movie succeeds on the energy of The Rock, as is often the case with his movies. The script is decent and there are some okay jokes, but The Rock seems to bring a fun factor to every role he does, whether serious or otherwise. I'm generally not a fan of wrestlers-turned-actors (since most of them make the switch to star in D-grade action films), but The Rock is an exception; he's always fun to watch and seems to have a blast doing comedies that play off his tough guy persona. There are a lot of moments in The Game Plan that wouldn't have been as funny with someone else in the lead role.
I'm sure this is the case with a lot of children's movies, but two things stood out as sort of funny. Disney clearly wanted no "controversy" regarding this film whatsoever, so you'll notice that The Rock did not have a child out of wedlock (because that'd be bad!) and instead got a woman pregnant during a brief marriage. Phew, Christian controversy averted! Second, as it turns out, his daughter's mom is now dead, which avoids any major complications regarding custody battles and other boring, non-family friendly stuff like that. I'm not really criticizing the film for doing this, but I thought it was worth noting.
The Game Plan is a fun little film, though don't watch this film expecting any major sports moments. I actually think The Game Plan could have played up the football aspects a bit more, though at an hour and fifty minutes, the movie is already running long for a kid's flick. Still, the championship game seemed really short and didn't really amount to much of a climax; director Andy Fickman really doesn't do a good job of making things very exciting (not to mention that the return of his daughter would not make his separated shoulder suddenly go away, nor would he run onto the middle of the playing field during a drive, which would in all likelihood cause a penalty). Fickman also could have done a lot more with the ballet scene near the end; it isn't nearly as funny as it could have been.
The Game Plan is not without its flaws and Fickman could have made a few parts a lot funnier or entertaining, but overall the movie is another decent entry from The Rock and a quality film for families of all ages.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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