The Game Plan
An eight-year-old girl is the last thing quarterback Joe Kingman (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) expects to find on his doorstep. He's more surprised when he discovers she is his daughter from a previous marriage. Now the self-absorbed athlete, who lives in an apartment decorated with game memorabilia and super-enlarged images of himself, is stuck with Peyton (Madison Pettis) for a whole month while her mother supposedly heads overseas for humanitarian work.
With season playoffs looming in the near future, this revelation couldn't come at a worse time. And even with his publicity agent (Kyra Sedgwick) working overtime, some parenting blunders are to be expected. (He has, after all, only known he's a dad for a few short hours.) But unfortunately for Joe, he's taking on his new role under the glare of the media who makes it front page news when the bachelor temporarily forgets his daughter at his club on opening night.
Still audiences won't have to worry too much about the precocious little schoolgirl who knowingly works things to her advantage. Forcing past Joe's defensive line, she wiggles her way into his life and the good graces of the other players on the Rebels football team. She also persuades her Dad to take her to ballet classes where Joe is recruited to play a tree in the studio's dance production.
Admittedly, many of the movie's situations are as contrived as Peyton's plan to win over her dad. Yet this script comes with a father-friendly message that is often missing, even in family-oriented films. Struggling to deal with a group of giggling, squealing girls at the mall, Joe begs Peyton's dance teacher, Monique (Roselyn Sanchez), to come to his rescue. There, despite Joe's inadequacies, she assures the gridiron QB that his role as a father is invaluable in Peyton's life. Luckily, the little girl proves to be equally important in Joe's life as he learns to watch out for someone other than himself. It's a change that benefits not only the Rebel leader but also his entire team.
With little concerns for family viewers (other than some hard football hits, a brief mild profanity and the stereotypical depiction of athletes), this film elevates the importance of parents, both moms and dads. And that's a great game plan.