Game Plan, The (2007)

Rated: PG
Grade: B+AAB=B+
Budget: $22 million
Box Office: $90 million US, $21 million int’l, $20 million DVD

Directed by: Andy Fickman, whose previous work has been steadily moving from awful toward slightly bad, starting with Who’s Your Daddy, Reefer Madness the Musical, and, most recently, She’s the Man. Don’t hold any of that against him. It doesn’t show here.
Starring: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Maddison Pettis, Kyra Sedgwick, Roselyn Sanchez, and Morris Chestnut.

On the eve of the playoffs, local hero and playboy quarterback Joe Kingman discovers that he has a daughter when she shows up on his doorstep wanting to be part of his life. He must navigate the new demands of fatherhood, try to win a football championship, and possibly find love all at the same time.

Entertainment Value: B+
I can’t quite give it an A only because it was a movie clearly made for kids to enjoy, and there isn’t quite enough here for adults. Nonetheless, this is the first movie in a long time that is both live action for kids and also outstanding for kids to watch. I can’t remember the last time I felt so good about recommending a non-cartoon kids movie. It’s funny, charming, and meaningful. The only other real defect here is that Kyra Sydgewick is a painfully bad miscast.

Superficial Content: A
Drugs/Alcohol A, Sexuality A, Violence A, Language A, Illegality A
The closest things to problematic are some of the slapstick elements, which are very mild, a few party scenes, a girl having a strong allergic reaction to nuts, and the fact that The Rock bounces his pects and later dances with a ballet instructor. Finally, zero profanity. Allow me to repeat. Zero profanity. A Quaker wouldn’t object to this movie, and I have no idea why the MPAA didn’t give it a G rating. The only thing, and this is now my firm hypothesis, is that they just aren’t willing to give G ratings to live action movies. The only three I can even remember in the last 10 years are The Straight Story, The Winslow Boy, and Charlotte’s Web (all excellent, by the way). This should be G for sure.

Significant Content: A
This movie hits on precisely the most important gender theme of all: having children makes boys into men by transforming them from barbarian party animals into responsible loving invested fathers. Also, it is this potential in boys that attracts women to them for the purpose of cultivating it out of them. Fatherhood also causes changes in other areas of life as real relationships, teamwork rather than self-glory, and compassion. The movie is clearly pro-father, saying they are essential. Life is unpredictable, and sometimes you have to call an audible. Money can’t buy anyone love. Crying wolf can hurt you when real dangers come along. When you find something of real value, all the things you used to think were important just fade away. The only problem is that the daughter does some fairly risky things for which she doesn’t get punished.

Artistic/Thought Value: B
Though this isn’t exactly a dramatic masterpiece, it’s certainly rich enough to generate plenty of discussions with kids. It’s the sort of movie that, watched 5 or 6 times, can easily become a reference point for illustrating things in ordinary life for your kids. I do this with Cars because it’s a movie Spencer knows so well. One other thing I liked about it is that the good advice in this movie comes from many different sources, male and female.

Discussion Questions:
~Which do you think is a more demanding sport: ballet or football?
If you had to choose between all the things you own or time with your parents, which would you keep? Why don’t parents seem to always grasp this concept?
~Can you think of things Peyton did in this movie that she did not get punished for but should have?
~Does it seem realistic to you that a professional quarterback would be able to fit a daughter into his life during the playoffs?
~What is a “man card,” and why do people joke about losing it? Are the things that get used as reasons to forfeit it unmanly or truly manly? What’s the difference between macho and manly? Is a man really a man unless he is willing to be embarrassed on behalf of his loved ones? How is pride an indicator of immaturity? How about humbleness of maturity?
~Can you think of some of the differences between being raised by a mother and by a father? What do you think of the ending for the movie?
Overall Grade: B+
I really thought this was a good movie, and one which I can eagerly recommend to you on a family movie night.


Anonymous said...

I am a big fan. I might be coming to see your film/THE GAME PLAN, I cannot wait to see it.oh and duwayne i am also a big fan on wrestling.See you soon kiss from [ANONYMOUS]

Anonymous said...

I wish you were my boy]