Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Family Movie Has ‘Heart-Warming Message’

By JANE WILSON, Special To The Bulletin | Published September 27, 2007

“The Game Plan,” the latest live-action offering from Disney, celebrates the importance of family while generating a few honest laughs along the way.

Though often predictable, “The Game Plan” is the surprisingly sweet story of a pro football player whose life is turned upside-down by the daughter he never knew he had. Joe Kingman is quarterback of a team that is in the throes of the Super Bowl playoff race. He is living the high life, but his only concern is himself. Money and fame mean that his world revolves entirely around him and his every wish is immediately granted.

One day, however, 7-year-old Peyton shows up on his doorstep, claiming to be his daughter and asking to stay with him. The egotistical Kingman must learn to grow up, give up his selfish existence and make room for another person in his life. Although suspension of disbelief is required to accept that a little girl would show up alone out of nowhere and be accepted without having her story more thoroughly checked, the plot sets up some laughs and a genuinely engaging story.

Much of the humor in “The Game Plan” comes from the introduction of a girl who adores ballet and everything pink and sparkly into the rough and tumble world of professional football. Hearts are soon melted, however, and the once intimidating players are soon enjoying dance recitals and instigating water fights in the locker room. Although the ending is predictable, the family-friendly movie has a heart-warming message of how a person can come to accept true love and learn to live for others. By the end of the film, it is easy to root for the main characters to succeed and be happy.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson does an admirable job with the role of Joe Kingman. Best known for his wrestling success and his action roles, Johnson is entirely believable and charming as the narcissistic quarterback who reluctantly learns to be a father. Young Madison Pettis, who plays his daughter, is adorable—all big eyes and bouncing curls. She is cutely precocious without edging into obnoxiousness.

Unfortunately, Kyra Sedgwick is wasted in a one-note role as Kingman’s overly ambitious manager. This character never develops beyond a shrill caricature. Likewise, a subplot that introduces Roselyn Sanchez as Monique, a ballet teacher/love interest who helps Kingman realize the importance of caring for his daughter tends to slow down the pacing of the movie. It might have been preferable to expand the role of Morris Chestnut, who plays the only one of Kingman’s teammates who is also a father. Although he has limited screen time, the character is interesting and Chestnut is sympathetic in the role.

Overall, though, director Andy Fickman does a creditable job of bringing The Rock’s larger-than-life persona down to size in a cheerful, appealing, feel-good movie that should bring smiles to the entire family.


Jane Wilson, a local writer and movie enthusiast, holds a doctorate in English from the University of Georgia. She is a parishioner at St. Pius X Church, Conyers.