Running Time: 110 minutes.
Rated: Rated G
Dwayne "The Rock' Johnson is Joe Kingman, the egoistical quarterback of The Rebels - Boston's leading pro-football (gridiron) team. The Rebels are, for the first time in years, real contenders in the final. Most of the credit is due to, and claimed by, Joe who has the skills to go with his opinion of himself. But the finals preparation goes awry when he discovers Peyton (Madison Peters) on his doorstep. Peyton is the daughter he never knew he had. At first he wants to send her back to her mother, his former girlfriend. But Peyton explains that her mother is off saving people in Africa. So, confirmed as the dad, Joe has to learn to juggle his old lifestyle of parties, dates with supermodels and training with the new challenge of ballet, bedtime stories and baby dolls.
His sports agent, Stella (Kyra Sedgwick) is not keen on the new arrangements. Joe's future and her success are dependent on him having no distractions as he prepares for the finals.
This is the most annoying of films on two levels. The first is obvious. Here we have a string of characters that are so dislikeable that it is excruciating spending any time with them. Even the supposedly cute little girl, Peyton, is really an obnoxious child that you would return to sender if you could.
For most of The Game Plan I was wishing it was over and then pondered how a studio could spend so much money on such a slight project. Even for the outlay there are some glaring mistakes. We are told, for instance, that it is winter in Boston, but there is not a foot of snow to be seen. There is, clearly, a global warming subtext in this family comedy.
Then, two thirds of the way through, the second level of annoyance kicks in. The Game Plan ends up being quite affecting. The wall-to-wall music has been preparing for the audience for this for some time, but when the whole story emerges, it is genuinely moving.
The ending does not absolve The Game Plan of all its predictable and corny sins, but it does for make a partial redemption, which is better than none at all.
BVI Out 1st November
Fr Richard Leonard sj is the director of the Australian Catholic Film Office