THE GAME PLAN Directed by Andy Fickman. Starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Kyra Sedgwick, Roselyn Sanchez, Morris Chestnut, Madison Pettis G cert, gen release, 110 min
IF YOU really have to attend the latest humorous juxtaposition of action star and infant – did you learn nothing from Kindergarten Cop, The Pacifier and Mr Nanny, fool? – then you should be in your seat early for the charming Goofy cartoon that precedes the main feature. You should then leave. It gives me no pleasure to reveal that The Game Plan offers pure celluloid emetic from soppy beginning to drippy end.
I love The Rock. Blessed with a smile that could melt icecaps and a decent gift for comic double-takes, the sometime Duane Johnson has plenty going for him beyond the fact that he is conspicuously not Vin Diesel (though that is certainly a major plus).
Sadly, even he can do nothing to save this picture from its own fatuousness. The smudge of bland incident that passes for plot sees an ace American footballer inconveniently saddled with a daughter he never knew he had sired. You know the sort of thing. He starts out as an irresponsible jerk and then, after several unfortunate mishaps and a barrage of giggles from young Ms Poppet, turns into a cuddlier version of himself.
The film’s problem – well, one of a batch that includes an intrusive score, leaden script and excessive length – is that The Rock seems far too nice to ever direct a scowl at anything in the puppy/child/bunny axis of cuteness. Madison Pettis, the very modestly talented juvenile lead, might very well effectively strain the patience of a Schwarzenegger or Van Damme, but Mr Johnson constantly looks on the point of offering her an ice cream, signing her up for Yale, depositing a million in her college fund and exchanging his Ferrari for a pony.
You could do a lot worse, young Ms Pettis.
The Rock and Madison Pettis