Many people adore Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson; though this is perhaps the last time he is going to go with that moniker. No because of his pro-wrestling career either, but the fact that he possesses immense screen presence and a very affable personality when it come to tackling film roles. There are obviously very many talented actors better than him, but there is a natural enthusiasm and star quality The Rock has, and he employs it effectively.
And that is exactly why the awfulness The Game Plan hits you like a double whammy. You perhaps don't expect it to be great, but you'd never expect it to be completely atrocious. The Rock is Joe Kingman, a star quarterback (or something, I don't really understand American football) for a Boston team who one day opens the door to his bachelor pad and discovers an 8-year-old girl. Turns out Payton (Madison Pettis) is his
8-year-old girl, a result of some long forgotten bachelor sayonara sex. What, you've heard this before? Oh c'mon, I haven't reached beyond the beginnings.
Payton, as all these long lost newly found offspring are wont to be, is extremely wise cracking, and dispenses sage advice to him, his team mates, and a local ballet instructor Monique (Roselyn Sanchez) who she has very conveniently earmarked for daddy dearest. Daddy, on the other hand, must give up his philandering ways for that plan to take effect, hence the game plan, and so on and so forth and so the diddly dums.
There is not a one idea or script element in the film that is remotely original or does not remind you of a host of Hollywood, and what's worse, Bollywood, tripe. Director Andy Fickman is also not interested in handling any of the many clichés in any new way, instead relying on the corniest of emotional moments to deliver the payoff. To make the kid-friendly grade, the absolute worst in everyone is showcased as somehow appropriate.
Joe, for example, is a bad guy because he shouts at the young girl for destroying his prized trophies. I mean who wouldn't? Or take the fact that Payton has essentially lied at her home and run off to find the father she never knew she had - and that is ...endearing?
This movie is not how a real parent will handle an 8-year-old precocious girl, but a service to all the kids who are its target audience. I really fear for America's sanity if this is the level of filmmaking they have to stoop to make the numbers.
The Rock, through sheer commitment to the project, just takes all the bad stuff (including green goop, ballerina dresses and everything else) and grins and bears it. You don't feel sorry for him, mostly because he manages to make the most of it by his charisma and utter belief that what he is doing is working. You also don't feel sorry for him, because if someone sings a film with a script such as this, he deserves what he gets.
The film is a waste of talent, and the budget, which could have been better suited to an intelligent script and a better director to handle it. I agree that I am not the intended audience for this film, but if films like Ratatouille
or Blue Umbrella are examples that movies for children need not be dumb stupid flicks, this film is a prime example that films for children can be made by people who have no idea what they think.
There are tracks that within the setting of the film could not have been tried, and I don't expect the filmmakers to get into that. But any effort on their part to rise above the mundane, the clichéd and the formulaic would have surely been appreciated. They simply accede to all the needs of the script, thereby committing themselves to the levels of tomfoolery you won't believe exists.
If The Game Plan enjoys even some amount of success, it is because of The Rock and his will to take the worst in any film and still give it his all. He has braved this film's inaneness and emerges only slightly bruised. Let's just hope the next time you see him on a big screen, it's not with kitchen goop all over his face in an effort to be funny.