He­got nogame

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film Reviews - DON­ALD CLARKE

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

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