(Originally published 2007)
Directed by Andy Fickman, written by Nichole Millard and Kathryn Price, 110 minutes, rated PG.
Somebody should put Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in a remake of “The Miracle Worker,” because when it comes to a working actor whose personality can override even the dreariest of cinematic drivel, he’s right near the top.
And that's no joke.
Have you seen the man's vitae lately? He isn't exactly dipping from the same pot as the Clooneys and Pitts, the Mortensens and Bales, the Crowes and Owens. Instead, The Rock's pot is a bit more shallow, and yet each time he's handed a piece of dreck, as he is in Andy Fickman’s “The Game Plan,” he manages to wring something better from it than you might expect.
For Hollywood and for audiences, that quality is the stuff of gold.
From Nichole Millard and Kathryn Price’s script, “The Game Plan” finds Johnson ("Gridiron Gang," "Walking Tall," "Doom") again tackling a canned movie and turning it into something that defies the odds stacked against it. Everything in this film we've seen before and yet the movie buoyantly rides the rails of formula as if it's just happy to be up there on the screen, much like Johnson himself.
Since the plot is given only passing consideration in the movie, we’ll follow suit here: Johnson is Joe “The King” Kingman, star quarterback for a fake Boston football team who is having the time of his life living large and worshiping Elvis when into his life comes an 8-year-old girl claiming to be his daughter from a previous marriage.
Her name is Peyton (Madison Pettis), she’s as cute as Joe is big, and what she brings to the movie is just what you expect--a softening of Joe’s ego, a purpose to his life that he didn't know he needed, and plenty of comedic bumbling on Joe’s part, not to mention a romantic interest in the form of Peyton's ballerina teacher (Roselyn Sanchez). Blah, blah, blah.
What Johnson has in movies are the very qualities that made him a wrestling superstar at the WWE. He works hard, sure, and he's taking none of this movie star business lightly, but the real key to his success is his personality (hugely likable), his talent (don't bet against it), and his ability to adapt from the action genre to the comedy genre with apparent ease.
That takes more skill than most will admit, and even though every one of his previous movies has been a rehash, he still has managed to make most of them work, just as he does here.
I agree with James Rocchi's review over at Cinematical. Check it out here.