The Game Plan

Hollywood is in the business of telling lies. The biggest involves romance, with long-term love portrayed as something out of a storybook, setting true believers up with completely unrealistic relationship expectations that real life can never live up to. Thank Hollywood for America’s greater than 50% divorce rate. The second biggest lie is that having kids makes everything better; spawning a cute little tyke will improve your career, better your relationships, make you a better person, clear up acne, and get you invited to cool parties. In the movies, there’s very little vomit, except when used for comedic effect. That second lie is the one The Game Plan is telling, but if you want proof that it’s nothing more than a fantasy look no further than the film’s star The Rock, who’s already admitted that his daughter is responsible for getting him to do this movie, the worst of his career and maybe the one that ruins him forever in the eyes of audiences. Great job kid, you’ve killed The Rock.

The Game Plan stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as a famous NFL quarterback named Joe Kingman. Joe Kingman has dedicated his life to embodying every spoiled, selfish, celebrity bachelor stereotype… or at least the ones that are approved by Disney. His football team is on its way to the playoffs and Joe is on top of the world, until a little girl shows up on his doorstep claiming to be his daughter. Joe thinks she’s been abandoned by her mother, but actually this 8-year-old little cutie has put into motion the kind of master plan that you usually only see in a Mission Impossible movie in order to be with him. Because this is a movie, Joe’s daughter has all the answers while he’s kind of an idiot. Because of course, kids know more than adults.

The film’s story unfolds exactly as you’d expect it to, with Joe at first resistant to the idea of taking care of a kid and then later falling in love with her. Meanwhile she forces him into a variety of humiliating yet theoretically funny situations which all help make him a better person. There’s nothing here you haven’t seen a million times before. He’s a football player, so of course the script has him doing ballet. He’s a selfish bachelor with an awesome apartment, so of course she has to destroy it. He has a manly bulldog, so of course she has to put the dog in a tutu.

I’m a big fan of The Rock, not just as an action star but as a comedic actor. Sure he has massive muscles, but he’s also incredibly charming and seems to have a real knack for comedy. But you wouldn’t think so from this movie, where he’s reduced to slack-jawed gaping at the camera and ineffective, childish whining. The script is just awful, there’s not an original moment in it anywhere. Director Andy Fickman seems to go out of his way to make it even worse by spicing it up with artificially sweetened moments so obvious and so contrived you’re bound to get a stomach ache. I’m pretty sure Fickman has never even heard the word subtlety before, his movie beats you to death with its “aren’t kids great” message and then plasters itself with big flashing arrows which seem to say “you’re supposed to laugh here”. Sorry, nobody’s laughing.

This movie wasn’t funny the first thirty times I saw it and doing it over and over again with a revolving cast of big, awkward bachelors and super-cute little girls hasn’t made it better. Dear Hollywood, stop making this movie! We get it. Every bachelor should keep a kid as a pet. Stop it. Just stop.

Josh Tyler