Relentlessly formula, The Rock solidifies ‘Game Plan’ footing

  • By Robert Horton Herald movie critic
  • Friday, September 28, 2007 10:51am
  • LifeGo-See-Do

Sometimes all you can do is surrender to the sheer corporate thoroughness of certain movies. “The Game Plan” is a Disney product that seems to have been made by an extremely shrewd Disney board of directors.

Every joke is in place, every heartwarming change is at the right spot. It has the sports-movie structure, macho comedy and a little parable on parenting. In short, this movie should be huge.

It also has Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who continues to leave his wrestling career in the rear-view mirror. Having established himself as an action star, The Rock now goes the Schwarze­negger “Kindergarten Cop” route, by making a family comedy.

Well, if it worked for Vin Diesel, why shouldn’t it work for The Rock? Or Johnson, or however we’re supposed to refer to him. And it does. Sure, “The Game Plan” has the soul of a TV commercial, but it knows exactly how to hit the buttons.

Johnson plays a pro football quarterback known for his great athleticism and intense self-love. Johnson has always had a rich sense of humor about himself, and he’s at his funniest while adoringly watching his own interviews on TV.

A glitch arrives in the form of a 7-year-old daughter (Madison Pettis), a little dividend from a past relationship. Can you imagine the hilarity of a superstar playboy who suddenly must take care of a child?

If you can, then you’ve got the picture. What’s staggering in this movie is how much care went into this idiotic, recycled set-up. Somebody was ruthless about hitting every corny note.

It’s all smoothly done. Even a subplot about ballet school (the daughter wants to attend) fits in: you can bet our big lug quarterback finds himself performing pirouettes before the story is through. It helps that the ballet teacher (Roselyn Sanchez) is a bombshell, of course.

The film has only one bit of freshness, and that’s the presence of its leading man, whatever name he has. The Rock isn’t a complete natural — you can still see the wheels turn once in a while — but there’s something inherently funny about watching a big guy do silly things. (Intentionally silly, that is. We’re not talking about Steven Seagal.) His energetic performance makes the movie work, which it does, relentlessly.

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