The Game Plan
Joe Kingman is characterized by three things. First, he loves himself, as evidenced by his shrine of a penthouse. Second, he loves being The King, as evidenced by his huge ego which everyone strokes. And thirdly, he loves football, as evidenced by the fact that his entire life revolves around it. That’s right, powerhouse Joe Kingman is the king of the gridiron. As Joe and his team are on the verge of becoming champions, everything is going great for Kingman. That is until an eight-year-old daughter he didn’t know he had suddenly shows up, the product of his very short marriage which ended… um…. eight years and nine months ago.
Peyton (named after the doctor, not the football star) is the last thing Joe needs right now, so Joe calls in Stella, his agent, to come fix things. What is Stella’s solution? Since Peyton’s mom is off on a humanitarian mission to provide clean drinking water to African children and can’t be reached, Joe might as well try and pretend to be a good dad and draw in more publicity. After all, turning the kid out in the cold would be bad press, so that’s not an option.
Unfortunately for Joe, pretending to be a good dad is a whole lot harder than he thought, especially when Peyton has no plans to play along. She’s here to have a real father daughter experience, not a contrived one.
The Game Plan, at its core, is a movie about family, and the value of children. When the movie starts out, Joe’s good friend and family-man teammate speaks very clearly when he says that Joe’s playboy lifestyle is empty, and by the end of the movie, Joe has the experience to realize that his friend was spot on. The best thing in Joe’s life isn’t his fame and success; it isn’t even his Heisman trophy. It’s his daughter. And he will do anything to be able to keep Peyton.
The movie is very empowering for parents, and it reminds the audience of the power that fathers, specifically, have in their children’s lives. Peyton’s dancing instructor talks to Joe at one point about how dads can give their kids the courage to do the things they never knew they could, just like her father did. In a society where fathers are belittled and made out to be buffoons, it’s nice to see a film where they are appreciated.
Which brings me to the next positive element I’d like to discuss. In The Game Plan, we see a very unusual storyline played out. Instead of the typical child out of wedlock, we find out that Joe was, in fact, married to Peyton’s mom. Granted, they got a divorce shortly after marriage, but I was surprised that the creators of The Game Plan chose to portray this element in the movie.
The Game Plan is geared for family eyes and ears, so we see that reflected in the movie, but it is not without its foul plays. As with any Dwayne Johnson movie, we not only see Joe shirtless on multiple occasions, but we see his characteristic pec pop (while he is wrapped in only a towel) which he uses to try and assist his flirting with Peyton’s dance teacher (she’s unimpressed, especially since he forgot about his daughter for a whole 2 hours).
Because ballet is a central part of the story, we see multiple athletes, male and female, dressed in unitards and other ballet outfits.
The strongest language in this movie is the multiple uses of the word stupid, and each time it is used we hear Peyton remind everyone that “stupid is a mean word”.
There are two different party scenes where we see adults drink some sort of alcoholic beverage, and, in an attempt to manipulate her father and Stella, Peyton threatens to tell the media Joe gave her a margarita (which he did not).
The water is also a bit murky, in regards to the circumstances that brought Peyton to her dad’s doorstep, and the lies she told to get there. That said, she does admit wrongdoing and makes a selfless choice, in the end, though this is not as a repercussion of her lies, directly.
For a football movie, there isn’t much football. It’s sorta just a backdrop for the story. Some of the storyline is a bit loose and cliché, but all of that aside, I finished this movie with a smile on my face and a warmth in my heart. Why? Because in the end, a very ego-centric man realizes he’s missed out on eight years of his daughter’s life, and he’s determined to put her first in his life from here on out. He realizes that the best thing in his life is the miracle of his daughter.