The Game Plan (2007)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Family-Oriented Comedy, Sports Comedy  |   Release Date - Sep 28, 2007 (USA)  |   Run Time - 110 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Derek Armstrong

The story of an athlete's playbook for adjusting to the arrival of a daughter he didn't know he had, The Game Plan might also refer to Disney's strategy for branching out in a world where its animation wing is now in the hands of Pixar. In other words, transplant the "child seeking parent" milieu familiar from its animated classics, but make it a bit hipper with a crossover star like Dwayne Johnson calling out the plays and making the passes. While it certainly is a tight commercial package, The Game Plan offers a bit more than that because of the lightness on his feet of The Wrestler Formerly Known as The Rock. Johnson has proven his legitimate chiseled charm on numerous occasions, and here he adds to a growing comedy resumé with a performance that contains no small amount of self-mockery. Ever image-conscious in real life, Johnson plays a megastar quarterback living in a house filled with oversized pictures of his face -- but isn't so self-absorbed that he's not lovable. He and child actress Madison Pettis have plenty of crackle as they size each other up for the first time. Pettis displays the seemingly contradictory traits of kewpie-doll cuteness and searing intelligence, which sets up a "lure you in, take you down a peg" dynamic to her character. It's the little touches that linger in The Game Plan, like the fact that Joe Kingman must do real parent duty in his daughter's dance recital -- a scene that simply sings, due both to the loving way Andy Fickman films it, and Johnson's un-self-conscious commitment to the rigors of ballet. The cast is rounded out with smile-inducing characters, and The Game Plan basically coasts on good vibes. It's formula with a sweet aftertaste.