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'Game Plan' is just way too cute

Dwayne Johnson is impressive, but the humor will probably appeal only to kids.

September 28, 2007|Gene Seymour | Newsday

Why isn't Dwayne Johnson a big star by now? The camera loves him. He's funny, self-deprecating and takes the occasional quirky chance with an off-the-mainstream-reservation experiment like the someday-to-be-released "Southland Tales."

Maybe having to carry around "The Rock" as an alias or alter ego -- or whatever it's supposed to be -- weighs down his upward mobility. Maybe he's not stoic enough to be an action guy or too brawny to be taken seriously as a comic actor. It could be that he hasn't quite found the right vehicle to drive home his persona.

"The Game Plan" probably isn't going to work, either. Too bad, because "The Rock" proves himself once again to be agreeable company as Joe Kingman, an all-pro quarterback for the Boston Rebels who's got Joe Namath's swagger, Brett Favre's arm and Michael Vick's footwork -- though one should hastily add here that he loves his bulldog almost as much as he loves himself.

When Joe finds out that he has an 8-year-old daughter named Peyton (Madison Pettis) from the 8-year-old daughter herself, his narcissism comes under predictable siege. He's got to make room in his life for her, and she doesn't make it easy for him -- or for us.

Pettis is adorable, but she pushes the cuteness dial well past one's tolerance level. Still, if you've got small ones yourself, they'll probably enjoy the messes Joe and Peyton make together. They may also wonder why it takes so long for all the movie's messes to get cleaned up.


"The Game Plan." MPAA rating: PG for some mild thematic elements. Running time: 1 hour, 53 minutes. In general release.

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