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Toon Talk: The Game Plan
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by Kirby C. Holt
The Game Plan
Walt Disney Pictures
MPAA Rating: PG
Rock of Ages
Dwayne Johnson began his showbiz career as “The Rock”, the most popular professional wrestler this side of Hulk Hogan. Like Hogan, Johnson segued into legitimate acting (their performances in and out of the ring were anything if not just that -- performances), but unlike the Hulkster and others who have tried to parlay their WWF fame to Hollywood success, Johnson can actually act. The Rock started small (as a pebble?), with a cameo appearance in The Mummy Returns, which in turn led to his own spin-off feature, The Scorpion King. More action roles followed with The Rundown, Walking Tall and Doom, and the charismatic hunk with the flexible eyebrow eventually branched out into dramas (Gridiron Gang) and comedies (Be Cool).
In a way, his latest film, The Game Plan, combines both of these last two pictures. In it, he plays a cocky quarterback sidelined on the way to the championships by the sudden appearance of a daughter he never knew he had. The comedy is mildly amusing but never surprising. Just about everything you would expect to happen does, although to its credit, that is its only offense. Unlike Disney’s other so-called “family comedy” from earlier this year, the wretched Wild Hogs, Game Plan is indeed a harmless film for the whole family, even if it is inevitably forgettable.
Johnson’s Joe Kingman is indeed a “king” on the field, if not mostly in his own mind. To hammer this point home, he’s an Elvis fan; there are almost as many pictures of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Kingman’s tricked-out luxury apartment as there is of himself. He’s a maverick with a football, and with the ladies, and he’d have it no other way. Into his self-obsessed life comes Peyton (Madison Pettis), a precocious, doe-eyed moppet who is as good with a comeback as she is with a Bedazzler. She claims to be his daughter, the result of a brief marriage from before he hit the big time, who was dropped off by her mother on her way to Africa (don’t ask). It is pretty apparent to everyone (including the audience) but Joe that, now that he has a kid, he needs to do a little growing up of his own.
Cue the typical scenes of a little girl causing all kinds of havoc in this bachelor’s life, from kitchen catastrophes to ruining game night with the guys. Peyton eventually gets to Joe, who even agrees to help out in her ballet recital (the most technically accomplished ballet recital you’ll ever see, by the way). This also gives the film a chance to inject a very chaste romantic subplot for Joe, in the form of dance teacher Monique (Roselyn Sanchez), who also provides the film with its one positive adult female character. The rest are just cardboard stereotypes, most depressingly the oh-so-familiar money hungry sports agent played by an incredibly wasted Kyra Sedgwick.
The entire movie is utterly predictable. It is no surprise -- or spoiler -- that there is a big win in the final game or that Joe will grow to become a good person and father or that Peyton won’t end up with him when all is said and done. What does make this cliché-athon at least digestible is the chemistry between Johnson and Pettis; they’re believable even though everything around them is not. And if you can buy that, they you’ll be able to handle this particular piece of The Rock.
Toon Talk Rating: C
Gridiron Glory Edition
In this ‘Toon Talk’ feature, I will briefly highlight a recommended film or DVD, outside of the Disney universe, of similar interest to the main subject.
1993 - Tri-Star
The inspirational sports movie for people who hate inspirational sports movies. Based on the true story of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger (played by Sean Astin), a small town guy who dreams of making it big on Notre Dame’s legendary football team. This heart-warming tearjerker will leave you cheering.
Directed by David Anspaugh and co-starring Ned Beatty, Jon Favreau, Lili Taylor and Charles S. Dutton. DVD available from Sony Pictures Home Video. Rated PG.
- Catch the jungle beat with the two-disc Platinum Edition Disney DVD of The Jungle Book (October 3).
- Just in time for Halloween: Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas is back in Disney Digital 3-D (October 19).
- Mark your calendars for November 6: not only do we get the Disney DVD debut of Ratatouille, but also the first volume in the Pixar Short Films Collection.
-- Kirby C. Holt
-- Logos by William C. Searcy, Magic Bear Graphics, http://www.cafepress.com/MagicBear
Kirby is a lifelong Disney fan and film buff. He is also an avid list maker and chronic ellipsis user ... In addition to his Toon Talk reviews, Kirby is the creator of Movie Dearest, a blog for movie fans.
Took Talk: Disney Film & Video Reviews by Kirby C. Holt is posted whenever there's something new to review.
The opinions expressed by our Kirby C. Holt, and all of our columnists, do not necessarily represent the feelings of LaughingPlace.com or any of its employees or advertisers. All speculation and rumors about the future plans of the Walt Disney Company are just that - speculation and rumors - and should be treated as such.
-- Posted October 2, 2007