The next in a line of sports-fueled family comedies, The Game Plan showcases some great comedy and heartwarming drama, though the blender wasn’t left on quite long enough as the film appears markedly split down the center as the quarterback seems to be playing an entirely different game in the second half.
Extremely egotistical star quarterback Joe Kingman (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) thinks only of himself in every aspect of his life. Even the team sport that he professes to love above all else finds him hogging the spotlight and only doing what’s best to boost his own fame. His spoiled and shallow existence changes suddenly when a sassy eight-year-old girl (Madison Pettis) shows up at his doorstep claiming to be his daughter…
At first a stereotypical, self-centered and selfish football player, The Rock’s character is forced to adapt to a lifestyle suitable for his newfound pride and joy. His transition is carefully mapped and The Rock does an outstanding job in a role that was practically crafted around him. His comedy acting has become more wholesome and appealing than his action turns, much like Schwarzenegger’s transition from over-the-top violence to child-friendly fare. While The Rock may go back into action and more adult oriented films, his present turn as the generally jolly good guy thrown into the realm of lighthearted comedy is pleasantly appropriate.
Roselyn Sanchez is also better-than-average in a relatively generic role as the love interest who can never quite make it into the spotlight due to the focus on little Peyton. Other supporting characters are mainly used for comedy relief, except Stella (Kyra Sedgwick), Joe’s agent, who is grossly unnecessary and overwhelmingly dislikable. Whether her character was intended for laughs or not, she receives none, and she is overbearingly detestable.
The Game Plan contains a healthy dose of family-friendly humor and morally commendable lesson-laden drama, though they’re clearly divided between the two halves of the film. After displaying the hollowly extravagant lifestyle of Joe Kingman, the fish-out-of-water transition when young Peyton is introduced brings plenty of laughs and comically awkward situations as the egocentric football player attempts to take on fatherhood. But shortly after the laughter peaks with The Rock pirouetting in an elaborate ballet performance, the mood abruptly shifts to drama and the tearjerker-style events keep coming and little humor remains to lighten the serious tone. Both the comedy and the drama prove entertaining, though the target audience will certainly find the former more appealing. Several lessons can be learned from The Game Plan (and a few are overly pronounced) but The Rock’s standout scenes lie within his honed comedic precision.
From ballet/football overlapping montages and signing autographs across defamatory newspapers, to an unhealthy Elvis infatuation, The Game Plan tries a little too hard to be grandiose and poignant, and becomes cliché and predictable toward its conclusion. Preachy at times, mushy at others, but with enough comedy to get by, The Game Plan is sure to delight the audiences it was intended for.
– Joel and Mike Massie (www.MoviePulse.net)