There comes a time in the life of every action hero when
he must put away his Uzi, Glock or scimitar. A time when
he must turn away from his bounty hunting habits or super
spy secret identity. The action hero must clench his chiseled
jaw line; tighten the baroque ripples of his abdominals
and sally forth into the self-parodying realm of the heart-warming
kid movie. Bruce Willis did it in The Kid. Vin
Diesel did it in The Pacifier. Arnold Schwarzenegger
did it again and again and again in at least three movies
that I can think of.
formula is clear: sports star, cop, or some other kind of
emotionally inaccessible tough guy has a cute-as-a-button
kid dumped in his lap and by the end of the movie has learned
how to love/the important things in life/the true meaning
aside, it can’t be said that the formula doesn’t
work. The playground dweeb in all of us loves nothing more
than to see the muscle bound goliath brought low by the
charms of a twee little imp in curls/overalls/spectacles.
Naturally, the kids love to see their own kind, armed only
with precocious cuteness, triumph over the adult. The kids
in the audience of The Game Plan certainly loved
it. I mean, come on, The Rock in ballet tights? Comedy!
“The Rock” Johnson plays Joe “The King”
Kingman, the Elvis and self-obsessed quarterback of the
fictional Boston Rebels. Kingman spouts catchphrases, hogs
the ball and parties with his fellow bachelors, but of course
seems to have few real friends. All of this changes when
8-year-old Payton Kelly (Madison Pettis) knocks on his door
and announces that she’s staying with him for a month
while her conveniently unreachable mom is doing charity
work in Africa. Faced with a daughter he never knew he had,
Joe learns a valuable lesson about love, sharing and dance
is nothing about this flick that is remotely surprising.
It’s chock full of the same old characters we see
every time: the feisty love interest, the doofus buddy,
the family man who had it right all along – they’re
all there. It’s a tidy package designed to appeal
to the broadest possible audience. There’s football,
princesses, animals and ballet, with enough subtle adult
gags and slick dance and sports sequences to keep the adults
from chewing off their limbs to escape and an ample supply
of mess-making, dogs in tu-tus and humiliation to keep the
Rock isn’t stretching himself. His performance is
one-note and there’s not much emotional range, even
when the script hands it to him on a plate. However, his
knack for physical comedy along with his native charm and
charisma float him through the film at an acceptably entertaining
level. And really, he had me at leotard.
Mistress Pettis is a cutie and though her delivery was more
in line with that of a Welch’s Grape Juice commercial
she managed to steal every scene she was in – no small
feat when playing against a pro wrestler. Kyra Sedgewick
pulled off a masterful performance as Joe Kingman’s
agent. She was a brittle, icy, Machiavellian horror, and
at the same time utterly hysterical – the perfect
foil for The Rock’s natural warmth.
script could be clever at times, but too often resorted
to clichés and winks to the audience. Some times
it seemed like the director was sitting next to you screaming
“Get it??!?” into a bullhorn whenever the story
hit a plot point or a character had a realization. Subtlety
is not a hallmark of this genre, but occasionally they bordered
on the insulting. We get it! Move on!
really are no surprises here, but then The Game Plan doesn’t
have any pretensions to high art; it’s not Pan’s
Labyrinth or Ratatouille.
It’s just a fun family picture about a football star
falling out of love with himself and into love with his
daughter. It’s sweet, kids will love it, and if you’re
willing to forgive its failings, you might, too.