Friday, October 12, 2007

'The Game Plan' Fumbles

* out of ****

"The Game Plan" is the newest Disney family comedy romp, though there aren't many X's and O's on the chalk board.

The Game Plan is about ace pro-NFL quarterback, Joe Kingman (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson), who plays for the fictional football team, The Boston Rebels. While Kingman is a national sensation, closing huge endorsement deals left and right, he is also an idiotic, self-absorbed playboy and portrays this behavior pretty much through the whole movie.
He never throws to his open receivers and runs the ball himself no matter how much it hurts the team, kind of like Terrell Owens.

While he throws huge parties in his lavish penthouse with his multiple girlfriends, he is also lonely. That is the cue to bring in Peyton Kelly (Madison Pettis), Joe's 8-year-old daughter that he never knew existed. And her arrival happens at the worse time imaginable, of course, because Joe is about to lead his team to the football championship.

While there are certainly many question marks such as: Would a mother really leave her child on a man's doorstep that she hasn't seen since she got divorced from him? Isn't there a better suitor for the job? Is emergency humanitarian work in Africa an excuse to leave her child for a month without a phone number or means of contact?

However, this is Disney so don't expect much to be answered.

The rest of the film focuses on Joe learning that little girls don't like protein shakes or workout regiments but ballet and dolls. Peyton acts equally as dumb as Joe, turning a blender on with the lid off, and putting two bottles of bubble soap into a bath tub. These comedic scenes, though, don't leave the audience laughing.

When Peyton convinces Joe to take her to ballet school, he falls for her ballet teacher, Monique Vasquez (Roselyn Sanchez), where he gets the ballet-is-a-sport-too nuance and she gets a crash lesson in football.

If Disney's game plan for "The Game Plan" was to make it as cute as possible, they scored a TD, but not really anywhere else.

Director Andy Fickman ("She's the Man") provides a certain level of originality, though it seems hackneyed and contrived; trying to please all demographics.

Wrestler-turned-actor Johnson is a decent in dramas ("The Gridiron Gang") and comedies ("Be Cool"). You see him genuinely trying to be funny, but he is so over exaggerated, when he first sees Monique, you think his eyes and heart would actually pop out and start thumping.

Ultra-cute, tinkering on being fake, Madison Pettis, who you might recognize from the Disney Channel, is funny, but starts to annoy halfway through when she's in one too many scenes.

Kyra Sedgwick is wasted as Joe's ice cold agent, Stella Peck, being too cartoonish -- like Cruella De Vil -- to pose a threat.

Meanwhile the best actor could be Spike (Tubbs), Joe's bulldog who gives off some funny sight gags thanks to a tutu and nail polish.

The movie's biggest problem is you probably saw it all before with titles like "Kindergarten Cop," "Father Hood," "Mr. Nanny" and "The Pacifier."

"The Game Plan" is silly, fun and harmless if you are 10 and younger. However, it's not so cringe-worthy you can't sit through it, and you'll probably get a laugh or two. "The Game Plan" is a weak one, but it's not a complete shut-out.

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