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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Movie worth watching: 'The Game Plan'

Sometimes, it all comes together.

You've got the personnel. The things they've been known to do well, they do very well. The leadership is all on the same page.

The execution? Nearly flawless.

Kyra Sedgwick & Dwanyne "The Rock" Johnson
in 'The Game Plan'

Finally, for Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, "The Game Plan" pays off. Cast as an egotistical pro quarterback who learns to put others first when he meets the little girl he never knew he had, The Rock scores in a family comedy that plays to his strengths, and Disney's.

It's not an ambitious script, this variation on a "Pacifier." But you'd never know that from the way The Rock hurls himself into it, embracing the silly, lampooning the vanity. As Joe "The King" Kingman, he dodges the pass rush and hits the open receiver. And he sings, he dances (in a leotard, kids!) and spikes the ball in the end zone.

He should. He's earned it.

The quarterback of the Boston Rebels is "Number one on the field and number one in your hearts!" Sure he is. Just ask him. At least that motto's not as lame as his other one, "Never say 'No.'"

Doesn't matter if his great, humble receiver (Morris Chestnut) is wide open in the end zone, The King's all about The King. He'll take the ball himself. He'll grin for the fans. He'll hop into His sports car and drive to His showplace apartment, admire His Elvis collection and then hook up with His supermodel girlfriends.

Until Little Miss Sunshine shows up at his door. The product of a long-ago marriage (Disney cleans up pro athletes' baby-in-every-town images, just like that), Peyton is the daughter he never knew he had. Mom is off finding water for villages in Africa, Peyton says. She has come to stay with "Dad" for a month.

That means exactly what you'd expect, and hope for, in a Disney family comedy. The King's inept parenting meets the irrepressible spunkiness of a ballet and Bead-Dazzled little girl (Madison Pettis). Accidents with the blender and bubble bath. Ballet lessons for the kid and a tutu for his pet bulldog.

Kyra Sedgwick is the frosty agent who tries do damage control with the press on this stunning revelation about the prince of the city. Roselyn Sanchez ("Without a Trace") is the sexy ballet teacher who demands "involvement" from the parents of her baby ballerinas. Hayes MacArthur, Jamal Duff and Brian White are the goofy teammates.

Will The King, one of those superstars who has never won "a ring," learn a little selflessness in time for "the big game"? (The NFL owns the rights to "Super Bowl.") Will father and daughter bond? Is there more to the show-up-on-King's doorstep story than little Peyton lets on?

Which part of "Disney family comedy" did you not understand?

The Rock leaves his arched eyebrow behind and is flat-out adorable here, strumming his guitar, channeling Elvis (The other "King"), showing lots and lots of teeth. His character's offhand egoism (slipping "a hundo," a $100 bill, to people he wants favors from) is played pitch perfect.

Pettis is pretty good for a kid making her film debut. Her "Little girls don't speak football" comeback, when The King diagrams plays -- his "Game Plan" to keep her from messing up his home -- is delivered with sass and snap.

Director Andy Fickman, who did the under-rated "She's the Man," keeps the performances light, the tempo brisk and cuts a mean football practice/ballet rehearsal montage.

No, it's not ambitious and it certainly isn't original. But even if we know where it's going because we've been there too many times before, a Disney fan can be excused for grinning ear to ear at how sweetly this Game Plan comes together.

Source: Zap2it

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