It usually doesn’t take all that much for me to enjoy sports movies. I love all sports, and even though I know there’s a very limited range of plots that sports movies can adopt, I still watch as many as I can. So I guess it’s no surprise that I picked up The Game Plan the other weekend, a 2007 Disney film that I thought would be about football, but turned out to be very family-oriented.
Plot summary (with possible spoilers): Joe Kingman (played Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) is the star quarterback for the Boston Rebels football team. His good looks and winning ways have him on top of the the sports world, and he’s also busy padding his bank account with millions from easy endorsements and other business ventures. With the Rebels poised to make a run for the championship, Kingman is trying to keep his focus on football — but that all changes when an 8-year-old girl shows up at his penthouse one day.
The girl’s name is Peyton Kelly (Madison Pettis). She claims that she’s Joe’s daughter from a marriage that ended just about 8 years ago. Peyton says her mom dropped her off at Joe’s place on her way to help children in Africa. She’ll be gone for a month, and thought this would be a good chance for Joe and Peyton to get to know each other.
Joe is incredulous at first, as he didn’t even know that he had a daughter. In fact, he wants to submit to paternity tests, but his agent Stella (Kyra Sedgwick) fears that if word of the tests got out, Joe would lose out on a bunch of endorsements. So Joe reluctantly takes Peyton in.
The rest of the film then shows how Joe, a confirmed bachelor who is used to having everything just so, gets to know his daugther and accept her girly ways. From ballet classes to having his possessions bedazzled with beads, the process is slow and difficult. Eventually, however, Joe grows to love Peyton and can’t imagine a life without her. When he’s actually faced with that prospect, he realizes that Peyton is the best thing that has ever happened to him.
My Reaction: As I said, I was expecting this to be more about football — maybe like that other Disney football movie Invincible. But as soon as I realized where the plot was headed, I convinced my son to give the film a try and we ended up watching it together. The Game Plan is definitely a lot better if you see it with your kids.
Anyway, the plot was very predictable — but that always happens in sports movies, so I wasn’t bothered by that too much here. I thought there were some cute scenes and I laughed out loud a couple of times, which was a bit surprising. However, I could have done without the ballet subplot, and as soon as it was clear that Joe and the teacher were supposed to fall for each other, I knew something was up with Peyton’s mom. Because otherwise, this being a Disney movie, the ending would have had Joe and the mom getting back together for form a happy family.
I do wish there was more football action, but I guess that’s too much to expect, considering the fact that this isn’t really a football movie. Oh, well — that’s what I get for not reading the description on the back of the box before renting!
Overall, The Game Plan was a decent family movie that parents can enjoy with the 10 and under set. I give it 3 stars out of 5.