Offering a plot that feels like something from the '80's, "The Game Plan" stars the Rock as Joe Kingman, an arrogant quarterback for the fictional NFL team the Rebels. He lives in an apartment that looks like a palace, with no one to share it with aside from his dog and a giant picture of himself. Not long after the movie opens, his bachelor life is changed for good when Peyton (Madison Pettis), a young girl who claims to be his daughter (by his ex-wife), shows up at his doorstep. His ex-wife is on a charity trip to Africa, and she needs him to watch her for a month.
While he initially gets his hard-edged agent Stella Peck (Krya Sedgwick) to try and run interference for him, as she believes if it gets out he had a kid he didn't know about for years, he may be in danger of losing his megabucks deal. Yet, as anyone could likely predict, Joe gradually begins to warm up to the idea of being a father, and is made a better person by the experience.
What the picture lacks in originality (read: any), it makes up for somewhat in other areas. I've always felt that the Rock is an underrated performer, and while he's not going to win any awards for his performance in this film either, his effort does make the material work better than it would otherwise. The Rock not only makes the change from self-absorbed superstar to father well, but plays the horror of the initial changes (from a sportscar to a station wagon) well.
Pettis is also terrific as Peyton, managing to be cute, but not a total pushover, either - after giving a speech to the press that wins public opinion back after Joe accidentially leaves her in a nightclub at 3am, she informs him that a speech like that will cost him. Pettis and the Rock are good together, and he also plays off Sedgwick well. That said, as reasonably well as aspects of the movie worked, this didn't need to be nearly two hours, when 90-95 would have been enough.
Overall, "The Game Plan" has some cute moments, fine performances and means well, but some originality would have gone a long way towards making it a touchdown instead of just barely a first down.
VIDEO: "The Game Plan" is presented by Disney in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This was a very pleasant transfer, with excellent sharpness and detail throughout the majority of the film. A few minor instances of artifacting appeared, but the film was free of print flaws or other concerns. Colors looked warm and well-saturated, with no smearing or other issues.
SOUND: The film is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. This is purely a comedy mix aside from the football scenes, which open the mix out a bit to provide some mild ambience and sound effects. Overall, this was a fine presentation, but isn't too noteworthy in any particular way. Audio quality was fine, with crisp effects and clear, natural speech.
EXTRAS: Blooper reel with Marv Albert doing the play-by-play, "Drafting the Plan" making-of (which talks about production issues, such as the Rock's injury on-set and using arena football players for the football scenes), "The Rock Learns to Play QB" (the Rock was a college football player, as well), set-top game and "The King in Search of a Ring" featurette.
Final Thoughts: Overall, "The Game Plan" has some cute moments, fine performances and means well, but some originality would have gone a long way towards making it a touchdown instead of just barely a first down. The DVD presentation offers very good video quality, fine audio and a few minor extras. Recommended for fans, those who didn't see the film theatrically should rent first.
The Film B-