Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Game Plan

I'll Show You The People's Elbow

American football team Boston Rebels' star quarterback Joe Kingman (The Rock) has only two loves in his life - Football and Elvis Presley. Like all successful sports superstars at the top of their game, he's living the good life, with his swanky penthouse apartment fitted with the latest luxuries, a roadster that screams "Mo Jo(e)", and endless parties with beautiful women. But alas one fine day he finds little Peyton Kelly (Madison Pettis) at his doorstep, claiming to be his daughter, and thus putting the brakes in his fast life.

It's convenient to start weaving woeful family drama and comedy about the complete opposites being struck by Fate to live under the same roof. As the trailers would have suggested, everything comes off quite predictably, and at times you feel that such scenes where the young girl tosses Kingman's life upside down, to be a little too contrived, and mostly having fall flat at its attempts to be funny. When funny doesn't work, it switches gears to cute.

However, The Game Plan posseses a certain charm, helped in loads without a doubt by the charisma of Dwayne The Rock Johnson. WWE entertainers perform their craft perfectly in the wrestling ring, but extremely few have made the transition to the big screen almost seamlessly. Dwayne Johnson happens to be one of the lucky few, with his megawatt smile and very personable demeanour, bringing him across as the big buddy you would like to hang out with. And while we know he can do action - The Scorpion King, Rundown, Walking Tall and Doom, he has shown a range of his ability through dramas like Gridiron Gang, and comedy, with his extremely hilarious turn in Be Cool. In The Game Plan, he rolls all those into one without breaking a sweat, and this movie is almost single-handedly saved from the doldrums by resting itself on his broad muscular shoulders.

Gridiron Gang had American Football elements in it, though The Rock now crosses from being the coach to the star player. He's the action sports hero with trademark moves (every respectable star would have one of those), the arrogant himbo who let success go into his head, and through the movie, we see a transformation to sensitive dad. What you don't see The Rock do, is best kept under wraps as probably THE BEST SCENE in this movie, which you have to watch to bear witness. Talk about extreme flexibility!

Some credit of course has to go to his co-stars in making the movie more palatable to a wider audience outside the fan base, though most of them, like Kyra Sedgwick as the bimbo, and Roselyn Sanchez as the hot latino instructor, are more caricatures without much personality injected, as expected. Madison Pettis shines in her role as the precocious kid, but sometimes she pouts too much and comes across more irritating than cute, though still managing to hold her own opposite Johnson. There are some heartwarming scenes between her and The Rock, and you'll probably be trying to hold back that teardrop.

This is still a star vehicle for Dwayne Johnson, and I hope that he will not ditch his action roles for drama or comedy, given a distinct lack of action movie stars that I humbly think he can fill. We all know how Arnie fared when he dabbled with comedy before going back to his Terminator roots, or Vin Diesel for that matter when he traded stunts for the milk bottle in The Pacifier. Filled with plenty of Elvis songs (director Andy Fickman is reportedly a fan) that you can hear Johnson serenade with, there are enjoyable moments in The Game Plan, and its predictable saccharine sweet messages on family, determination and the likes, will no doubt make this movie achieve a decent box office success here.

As a fan, I can't wait for his debut in Get Smart, and crossing my fingers he'll be casted in the much rumored production of Shazam! as The Big Red Cheese!

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