While he started his long-lasting career in the WWE and has only continued to grow into a superstar across several platforms, from movies to social media, Dwayne Johnson was, at one point, not as huge in the movie business. He’s a massive action star now, and has led several funny films, but there was a time where Johnson was only just getting started in comedic roles.
One of those happened to be in The Game Plan, a movie that, admittedly, got bad reviews upon its release, but I’ve always held a very, very special place in my heart for this Dwayne Johnson-led film, and for many reasons. Today, I’m going to go over why it’s my guilty pleasure - and why you should watch it.
The Chemistry Between Dwayne Johnson And Madison Pettis Is Perfect
There are a lot of movie pairings that I truly adore - for example, if we want to talk about another pairing that stands out, I think of Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart. Their chemistry on screen is hysterical and the fact that they’re real-life friends makes it even better. But there’s something special bout Dwayne Johnson and Madison Pettis, who plays his daughter, Peyton Kelly, that just makes me smile.
I remember I saw this movie when I was nine, with my father, and back then I loved them just as much, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to realize why I liked these two specifically together - they had the same dynamic as my dad and I.
While I never had to somehow build a bond with my dad because it was always there, the way these two interacted was very reminiscent of how a dad would treat his little girl - letting her paint his nails, bedazzle his items, even bringing her to a doll store because she really wanted to go, despite him hating it (as my dad has done with the American Girl doll store). It felt so real.
I think that’s a huge reason why I loved this movie so much. Their chemistry isn’t just really well-cast; it feels so real. It feels authentic, as if these two were actually related in real life, and to this day, I still can’t get over it.
I Love The Comparisons Between Football And Ballet
Growing up, I was taught two things from mass media - that ballet was for girls, and football was for boys. As I’ve gotten older and much more mature, I realized that anyone can play any sport they choose and it shouldn't be gendered, but The Game Plan made me realize just how serious these two sports are - and how much training goes into them.
I love the comparisons between them. This movie gets to show so many different sides to both sports. We get to see the true wit and skill it takes to become a professional ballerina, the stretching and the muscle training and everything else that has to happen in order to put on a beautiful show - which is often compared to football, and the training that those players have to put their body through in order to have a good game.
Keep in mind that again, I was nine the first time I saw this film, so seeing those comparisons really meant the world to me and made me realize that ballet is just as athletic as football. Seeing Dwayne Johnson, this big, husky man, in a ballet made me smile because I had never seen it before.
As an adult, I still watch that scene and smile, because I know that there are other people out there that might think the same thing, and that they might know now how much work truly goes into being a ballerina. This movie changed that for me - and legit made me want to become a dancer.
I Know Dwyane Is More Of An Action Star Now - But Damn Does He Have Great Comedic Timing
But, man, he really does have a knack for comedy, and The Game Plan proves that even back then, he still had it.
Johnson has been in many comedic movies in his career, from the rebooted Jumanji series alongside his buddy, Kevin Hart, to Central Intelligence (also with Kevin Hart), Tooth Fairy, and more. Heck, you can even count his voice-acting role as Maui in Moana as a comedic role, since he drops some pretty funny jokes during that film. Even in The Game Plan, though, you could tell he was still just as funny.
He has this sort of charisma that is unbeatable, and it shows in so many of those scenes, where he’s able to still use that charm in perfectly timed comedic moments.
Like, for example, that scene where Peyton made cookies and gave them to Joe (Johnson’s character), his tongue swells up, he asks her what’s in them, she says cinnamon, and he admits he’s allergic to cinnamon. While the moment itself should be one of concern, he makes sure that no one is nervous about it because he delivers the line so well, “I’m allergic to cinnamon!” that somehow makes the audience laugh, even though you can clearly tell he’s worried.
It’s a genuine gift that he has, and his charisma has helped make his career, but that paired with great acting skills and funny comedic timing, melds well for a funny performance.
An Emotionally Unavailable Parental Figure Building A Bond With Their Newfound Child Is Always A Trope I Can Get Behind
I’m a sucker for these, man. My favorite game is The Last Of Us, which will have an HBO TV show soon. I love the “emotionally unavailable paternal figure is suddenly set off with a child and now has to learn to be a father” trope. It gets me every time.
It was done in the God of War video game series (which is also apparently getting a TV show), it was done in Logan - heck, you could even make that argument that this trope applies for the anti-hero of The Walking Dead, Negan, and Lydia. But you know where I don’t see this trope that often? Comedy.
At least in my experience, this trope is always thrown into a drama or game, and for good reason - because it usually provides an excellent dose of story, but there’s something about the way that it’s done here that makes me smile every time. It’s such a sweet, slow progression, with a wonderful payoff at the end, and I really appreciate that.
A lot of the time, these stories sometimes end in heartbreak, but this one ended in the most heartwarming way possible, and I love The Game Plan for that.
While The Game Plan might not be on the list of the best sports movies of all time, it’s certainly on my list for one of my favorite guilty pleasure movies. Is it perfect? No, of course not. It still has its flaws. But I’m always going to have a very dear spot for it deep in my heart, and I doubt any new movie is going to replace it anytime soon.
Now, I get to see Dwayne Johnson become a superhero in Black Adam, and that’s cool too, but a part of me is always going to remember him as Joe Kingman from The Game Plan.
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A self-proclaimed nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire, Alexandra Ramos is a Content Producer at CinemaBlend. She first started off working in December 2020 as a Freelance Writer after graduating from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in Journalism and a minor in English. She primarily works in features for movies, TV, and sometimes video games. (Please don't debate her on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!) She is also the main person who runs both our daily newsletter, The CinemaBlend Daily, and our ReelBlend newsletter.