7 October 2007 | jon.h.ochiai
Sweet Game Plan
In "The Game Plan" after being high-jacked to the mall by his 8 year-old daughter Peyton (adorable Madison Pettis) and her ballerina crew, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as Superstar Quarterback Joe Kingman is held captive at a "Make Your Own Doll" shop. Roselyn Sanchez as Peyton's ballet instructor Monique arrives to the rescue. "The Rock", crammed in children's chair, is combing out the hair of the doll he made. "The Rock" humbly tells Monique, "Thanks for saving me
" Joe wistfully concedes that he is not at all good at thisbeing a Dad. Monique reminds him that women being better anyway, are better at this sort of thing. Then in a touching admission, she tells Joe that fathers are important in that they teach daughters courage, and "They make us brave." Director Andy Fickman's "The Game Plan" is surprisingly both touching and sweet. Sentimental is a givenif you have a problem with that, you need to crawl back under a rock, because the sunshine emerges shamelessly in "The Game Plan". "The Game Plan" works, because of The Rock's undeniable charm, and his natural chemistry with Madison Pettis.
Film critic Richard Roeper commented that The Rock has squandered the opportunity of being the next huge action star, with his recent roles. I don't think so. For one thing: Action star roles are not very interesting. The Rock is a smart guy, and he is choosing roles with career longevity in mind. The Rock's gift is light comedy. He is incredibly charming and has amazing comedic timing. Granted this comedy leverages the incongruity of his physicality and athleticism offset against cute little Peyton "P" and gorgeous Monique. The Rock is a strikingly handsome man, and standing 6'4" with the ripped body he is imposing. Note the great CGI work seamlessly covers his tribal tattoos. I am a huge fan of The Rock. Here in "The Game Plan" he is funny, charming, and charismatic. As cute and adorable as Madison Pettis is as P, The Rock is never over shadowed. His evolving relationship with Peyton is poignant and endearing. Pettis is stellar, not overplaying cute-- she just is. She also displays amazing restraint on the whole precociousness little girl deal. Although the audience is a little shaky on Peyton's real story, her mission to know her father (Joe) lands as genuine. Among the interview questions she asks trolling for the desired answer, "What is best thing that ever happened to you?" The initially selfish Joe says that it his limited collectors release of his athletic shoe. Wrong answer.
The Rock plays Joe Kingman, All-Pro Quarterback for the playoff bound Boston Rebels. He revels in his celebrity lifestyle. Joe is rich, good-looking, single, and lives with his bulldog Spike in his mega bachelor pad. His agent Stella (taut and hilarious Kyra Sedgwick) tells Joe, he is about to make "Tiger Woods money". He parties with supermodel Tatiana (good vapid Kate Nauta). He hangs with his player crew (hilarious Hayes MacArthur, Brian White, and Jamal Duff). Arrogant Joe mercilessly tells his wide receiver Sanders (solid and charming Morris Chestnut) that he needs to retrieve his "Man Card". That is the way Joe rolls. Joe is also a greatness poser. Joe is all "I am great. You're not." Joe's world immediately alters when little Peyton (Pettis) arrives at Joe's door, announcing that she is in fact his daughter. Peyton tells Joe that she is staying with him for 4 weeks while her mom is doing humanitarian work in Africa, and can not be reached by cell phone.
In recap, Joe is now a Dad, and leading his Rebels to the Super Bowl. Clearly he has a clue for only one of these responsibilities. Fortunately, Joe finds a dance school for little ballerina Peyton. To his utter disbelief the instructor Monique (beautiful and feisty Roselyn Sanchez) has no idea regarding Joe's celebrity. Monique soon enrolls Joe into his responsibility as a parent. The resulting aftermath is Joe's participation in a ballet production. There is a hysterical scene as Monique hands Joe his ballet tights. Joe dismisses, "Oh, no! I am a freakishly large man!" Will Joe knock it off, and surrender to his innate greatness becoming a leader for his team and a loving father for Peyton? No worries. Thankfully "The Game Plan" is a Disney Pictures movie. "The Game Plan" is also the rarity in contemporary timesa family movie that is smart, sentimental, sweet, and all heart. The Rock is awesome. In my older age I'll embrace cheesy and sentimental, when stories celebrate the very best in people. Take a chance on "The Game Plan".