I understand that The Game Plan was never intended for adult audiences. So I tried to make allowances by remembering that the film wasn’t targeted at me specifically. Even knowing all of that going in, I found The Game Plan a really hard film to watch. If you’ve read enough of my reviews you already know that I can enjoy a kid’s film as much as anyone else. The problem is I don’t think I would have enjoyed this movie even when I was 8 years old. The first problem is the little girl. While I’m sure that Madison Pettis is cute as a button and probably says the dandiest things, she was entirely too annoying for most of the picture. I found her tone to be simply grating. The next issue is going to sound sexist, and perhaps it is, but if you want a football film to connect with the guys out there, don’t hire three women to write it. Nichole Millard, Kathryn Price, and Audrey Wells might be great writers, but they don’t know football, and it shows. I have to say this was about the most unrealistic football action I’ve seen in a movie. I get better stuff off my Madden 08 and my Playstation. Everything looked like it was happening in slow motion and lacked any kind of grit and guts I expect from my football. The Rock does about the best he can with the role. It’s true he did play some football in college at the Mighty “U”. There he played on the defensive side of the ball and lacks credibility here as an elite QB. I get this picture of Peyton Manning or Dan Marino laughing their collective behinds off watching this sad excuse for football. In the extras we hear they hired “real” football players…out of the Arena League. What a joke.
Actually I shouldn’t use the word joke, because there lies the true tragedy of The Game Plan. Pure and simple, as Terry Bradshaw is fond of saying, “That stuff ain’t funny.” You’re right, Terry, and “That’s my rulin’.” I managed to watch the entire movie barely cracking a smile. I’ve had more fun watching regular season NFL this year, and I’m a Vikings fan, so you know how much fun that was this season. The script relies too heavily on old worn out gags. These are the kinds of things that were never that hilarious to begin with, like an exploding blender or a kick in the crotch. There’s nothing original about the premise, but still we’ve come to expect more out of Disney. What is also surprising is that the film was produced by Mark Ciardi and Gordon Gray, who’ve given us the far superior The Rookie, a film with plenty of heart sorely lacking in The Game Plan.
Joe Kingman (Johnson) is one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game. He’s got endorsement deals that keep him living the good life. The problem is he’s an egotistical nightmare. He is the ultimate ball hog, ignoring open receivers in order to be the hero himself. His slogan of “number 1 on the field and number 1 in your hearts” pretty much tells you all you need to know. His penthouse apartment is like a shrine to himself. It’s good to be the king. That is until an 8 year old girl shows up at his door claiming to be his daughter. It appears that Mom’s in
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track was pretty much a serviceable affair. It wasn’t ever really dynamic, but it did most of what was intended well enough. The football scenes would have benefited from a more on the field range of ambient sounds. When I watch HD broadcasts of NFL action I get a lot of the grunts and hits courtesy of the parabolic mics the league uses to deliver the on the field sound. I definitely missed any feeling of impact when players collided. Dialogue is fine, and you’ll have no trouble hearing it all. Music cues are actually pretty subdued and neither added or subtracted from the overall presentation. I often hear composers say that if they’ve done their job well you won’t really notice the score. Nathan Wang did a great job, then.
Deleted Scenes: Film director Andy Flickman guides you each scene. You do have the option of viewing them without his intros. With the Flickman intros you get about 21 minutes here. It’s too long for a film that wasn’t terribly exciting to begin with. One of the scenes changes the film considerably, showing the Rebels losing the final regular season game going into the playoffs.
Bloopers: Marv Albert does a good job of spicing up the typical bloopers reel by providing an entertaining play by play commentary. This was by far the funniest part of the entire DVD.
Drafting The Game Plan: This is a very typical 20 minute behind the scenes feature. You get a lot of actors explaining who their characters are. Apparently The Rock was injured doing one of the football scenes. There’s also some nut job trying to tell us how football and ballet are really pretty much the same thing. Yeah right!
ESPN’s SportsCenter – The Rock Learns To Play QB: This is an actual SportsCenter piece about the film itself. It’s a promo fluff piece at best. Sean Salisbury, formerly of the mighty Vikings, talks to Johnson about the difference in playing QB and his college position as defensive end.
ESPN’s SportsCenter – The King In Search Of A Ring: This is an extended version of the SportsCenter piece Joe Kingman watches in the film.
I like kids’ movies, and I love football movies, so why didn’t I like The Game Plan? Let me count the ways. I don’t like ballet. (Hint to Nichole, Kathryn, and Audrey: Guys who like football do not tend to like ballet). The kid is not endearing at all. I’ve seen this story at least 100 times before. Disney thought it could cash in on The Rock’s fame, tell a tired story, and mix football with ballet. “Ridiculous, isn’t it?”