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Movie Review: The Game Plan

The Game Plan
Directed by Andy Fickman
Written by Nichole Millard and Kathryn Price from a story by Millard, Price, and Audrey Wells

The Game Plan is the latest from the Disney machine, and we all know what to expect from this one.  So, is there anything worth reporting about this family comedy?  Not much, but I do have some kudos to pass along.

In this, the likable Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson plays self-absorbed pro quarterback Joe Kingman, who is getting up there in age and is about to take (probably) one last try at winning a championship.  But then, someone enters his life to rock his world: unknown cute daughter Peyton Kelly (Madison Pettis), who has been commissioned by her mother to go find the father she’s never met while she goes to Africa and help people (yeah, it’s far-fetched, but the movie has an explanation).  This is all very troubling to Kingman’s agent, Stella Peck (Kyra Sedgwick), who is as unfeeling and money-hungry as all agents are in movies.

Apparently, one last dalliance after their divorce (Disney couldn’t possibly make a movie where a guy fathers a child from a one-night stand) resulted in Peyton.  And she, like most children, is a tremendous drain on time, and Kingman has to balance practices and the football playoffs with raising a daughter, who enters a ballet school run by the awesomely hot Roselyn Sanchez.

And maybe the precocious Peyton can, somehow, appeal to Kingman’s unselfish side and, among other things, he’ll finally throw the ball to his extremely nice, unselfish friend, family man Travis Sanders (Morris Chestnut), who is the nicest wide receiver we’ll ever see.

This defines predictability, and I usually hate movies that chide men for being unable to balance their careers and their families.  The guy just finds out he has a daughter and suddenly he’s supposed to be the best father ever.  This is the PG Jersey Girl.  But the movie does do something that I will heavily applaud: when it comes time for Kingman to play in the big game, he doesn’t have to choose between it and his daughter’s ballet recital.  Those are done on separate days and does not become the predictable conflict that always arises in these kinds of movies.  If the movie had done that, I would have totally hated it.  But the likability factor of The Rock and newcomer Madison Pettis make this worthwhile. 

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