Reviewed by: Bob Rossiter
|Featuring:||Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Kyra Sedgwick, Roselyn Sanchez, Morris Chestnut, Madison Pettis, Gordon Clapp|
|Producer:||Mark Ciardi, Gordon Gray|
|Distributor:||Walt Disney Pictures|
“Joe Kingman had the perfect game plan to win the championship… but first, he has to tackle one little problem.”
Ok, I was set up. The weekend “The Game Plan” opened my job took me to a camp in the mountains. The camp’s main purpose is to provide fatherless children with positive father figures in their lives. While the kids attend events with their new found “dads”, their widowed or divorced moms receive encouragement, training and love from women who have been in their place. You combine this trip with my own desire to be a good dad to my kids, and there was no way I was coming out of this movie dry-eyed.
The movie begins by showing us quarterback Joe Kingman (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) who is very full of himself. Joe’s apartment is packed with pictures and football memorabilia about him and his accomplishments. (There are a few Elvis things thrown in for looks.) He is seen as one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, but has never quite achieved the championship ring. Football is Joe’s life. He even says as much on an interview with ESPN where he declares, “Football is my life. Beyond that, nothing else matters.”
All is thrown into chaos, however, when an eight year old Peyton Kelly (Madison Pettis) shows up on his doorstep claiming to be the child he never knew he had. It takes a birth certificate with Joe’s name on it to convince him he really does have a daughter.
Peyton has shown up at a very inconvenient time for her dad. It’s January, so Joe is playing in championship games, and he’s also trying to land a multi-million dollar deal with a restaurant chain called Fanny’s Burgers. The mascot-style character for the chain is a pink hippo, which appropriately symbolizes how fat a person might get if they ate there.
At first, Joe tries to ignore his daughter, be a glorified babysitter and at one point even hires a nanny so he doesn’t have to give up his selfish dreams and chase after the championship ring. Peyton refuses to give up, however, hanging onto her dream of having a dad. With the help of her ballet instructor, Monique (Roselyn Sanchez), Peyton is able to soften her dad’s heart so he can become the father he ought to be.
Joe comes a long way through all this. In the beginning he broadcast to the world, “Football is my life,” but in the end when he’s questioned by a sports reporter he says, “There’s nothing I love more than my daughter.” There’s no question about where the movie is headed, but the trip Disney takes you on is well worth the price of admission.
There is one subplot I really hope you don’t miss, and that’s the importance of true friendship. “The Game Plan” shows the picture of a friendship that is “closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). Sanders (Morris Chestnut) isn’t just the best receiver for the Boston Rebels, he’s also Joe’s best friend—Joe just doesn’t know it yet. Sanders is a family man and gets no small amount of ribbing about it from Joe. And though he is an excellent receiver who has been open in the end zone time and again, Joe has often opted to run it in for himself to take the glory. When Joe realizes what he’s done to his friend he says thank you, and when Sanders asks what for, Joe replies, “For taking everything I threw at you”—obviously meaning more than a football. To this, Sanders says, “That’s what friends are for.”
There are a few things you may want to discuss with children after the movie. Some characters tell lies and use deception. I didn’t see anyone drinking alcohol, but it was available in the night club scene and at Joe’s apartment. We do see Joe’s muscular build shirtless several times, and one of them is shown close up. Some women’s cleavage is seen along with several cheerleaders, but they are mostly in the background. All in all, “The Game Plan” was done as a family movie, and this includes the language. The only thing I heard that might offend some is the term, “pain in the butt” which occurs once or twice.
There aren’t enough rough and tough football scenes to keep little boys’ attention, but I’d still recommend that families go watch “The Game Plan”. I especially wish dads would take their daughters. But dad, if your heart is as soft as mine, take plenty of tissues, and be ready to find a way to say, “I love you,” to your children.
Violence: Minor / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: Minor
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.