Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews
- Category: Jacqueline Monahan
- Published on 23 November 2008
- Written by Jacqueline Monahan
The Game Plan
Las Vegas Round The Clock - http://www.lasvegasroundtheclock.com
Jacqueline Monahan is an English tutor for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also a consultant for Columbia College Chicago in Adjunct Faculty Affairs
The theme of a child being thrust on an absolutely unprepared and incompetent (or closed-off) adult goes way back, probably pre-dating the classic, Heidi. There’s Baby Boom, Big Daddy, A Simple Twist of Fate, and more recently, No Reservations, and I’m probably omitting dozens more. The Game Plan is the latest in a long line of heartwarming family films to tackle this premise. Because it’s from Disney, there are certain givens that you can expect: no profanity, no nudity, but double portions of cuteness blended with predictable outcomes and resolutions.
As if you can’t see what’s coming for miles and miles, self-involved pro-football quarterback Joe Kingman (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) answers the door one day in a way you’ve seen done countless times before: expecting an adult, he only scans the horizon at his eye level, completely missing the 8-year-old right in front of him; clever – and absolutely ancient sight gag. Don’t worry, there’ll be lots more.
Here’s how much Joe loves Joe. He has a wall-sized picture of his smiling face across one wall of his high-tech condo. He’s got original Elvis paraphernalia in display cases (gold records, a red jumpsuit). He’s fond of saying how much things cost in his house. That bed is $10,000, that couch is $40,000. He is used to asking any crowd, “Who do you love?” and having them scream “You, Joe!”
Joe has a white bulldog named Spike, drinks health shakes featuring blended tuna and raw eggs, and is the star quarterback for the fictional Boston Rebels. His jersey number? One, of course. His motto? Never say no.
His taste in women is as shallow as his wealthy bachelor lifestyle. Foreign, stick-thin models and adoring party girls litter his shindigs like used wrapping paper. He’s also a selfish player, hogging the glory on the field instead of giving his teammates a chance to score.
Then Peyton, (Madison Pettis) with her pink ballerina bags and Bedazzler (a device which affixes rhinestones and metal studs on absolutely every surface) moves in for a month, while mom aids humanitarian efforts in Africa. Joe knows nothing about Peyton, having divorced mom Sara before even she knew she was pregnant.
Can you see the crowded horizon? Will there be food issues, messy kid issues, fish out of water issues? Does Joe forget he has a kid? Will Peyton win everyone over, even the team grouch? Awkward and embarrassing situations abound. A ditzy nanny chosen for her looks is quickly dismissed. Peyton can be a screw-up kid or a pint-sized professor according to plot contrivance. She’s named after 1966 Nobel Prize in Medicine recipient Peyton Rous, after all.
Joe’s uber agent Stella (Kyra Sedgwick) is sharky and conniving, but is a guilty pleasure to cheer on for her lovely greed and single-mindedness when it comes to promotional opportunities and public relations damage control for her client.
Ballet school owner/instructor Monique Vasquez (Roselyn Sanchez) provides a moral backbone and conscience for Joe. Her plot line is the weakest in the film, but serves to illustrate that Joe can be rehabilitated into a responsible father. Another story line has the Boston Rebels contending for the championship. Joe’s teammates fill parts of the film with good-natured camaraderie and a handy cheering section when needed. They are overgrown kids themselves.
Some elements work: The film does not ram a romantic interest down our throats, nor does it force a nuclear family scenario. There are some poetic images, thanks to slow motion photography during one montage. Joe’s trophy room becomes Peyton’s bedroom, a big concession for the once conceited sports hero. He serenades his daughter with a signed Presley acoustic guitar.
Peyton’s got a secret, and it comes out after she and Joe have bonded. Custody issues come up, and there’s a health scare. Just keep repeating, “There’s no place like Disney,” and you’ll do just fine.
The Rock is the star here. Charismatic, multi-talented and truly likeable, he is at home in comedy; he’s got the timing, the smile, and shows range (he sings, too!) He’s the draw in this film.
Kyra Sedgwick (Warhol pal Edie’s cousin, it’s true) is deliciously greedy in her small but potent role as Joe’s agent. It’s refreshing to transplant known personalities into opposite temperaments and see how they fare. Kyra excels and revels in Stella’s hunger for green.
Madison Pettis is regulation cute, but not at all irritating or grating. She does not upstage The Rock, but matches his screen presence. There’s real chemistry between these two.
Roselyn Sanchez is a pleasure to behold onscreen and is a great foil for The Rock’s clueless Joe.
Director Andy Fickman (She’s the Man) is good at capturing shots of the charismatic Rock. There’s a surprising montage to ELO’s Mr. Blue Sky that was impressive and came out of nowhere.
Sports announcers Marv Albert and Boomer Esiason appear in small cameos as themselves as well.
The Game Plan here is to sit back and let the cuteness take over. Check your logic at the door and have a good time with The Rock & Co.