It's clear that someone wants to turn former WWE wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson into the next Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Johnson's roles to date have been in action films that were very similar to some of Schwarzenegger's movies. And like Schwarzenegger, Johnson is moving into comedies. For all intents and purposes, "The Game Plan" is a carbon copy of "Kindergarten Cop."
This attempt to make Johnson "cute and cuddly" certainly is not a horrible film. But it is overly familiar, and at nearly two hours overstays its welcome by a good 15 or 20 minutes.
Johnson stars as Joe "The King" Kingman, a professional football quarterback who has everything a single man could want, save perhaps the elusive league championship. And it turns out Joe also has something he didn't know about a daughter named Peyton (Madison Pettis), who turns up on his doorstep over the Christmas holiday.
Peyton claims her mother, Joe's ex-wife, is in Africa and needs him to look after the girl for a couple of weeks. So Joe suddenly gets a crash course in the responsibilities of parenthood, including the clothing, feeding and general care of a child. And he has to do so while he's trying to prepare for the league playoffs.
Johnson is a likable performer and a good sport. At one point in this film he has to dance in a ballet and even croons an Elvis Presley song and he's pretty good at both.
For a newcomer, young Madison is pretty natural and relaxed, and the daughter-father chemistry with Johnson is believable.
But it's a shame that three female screenwriters couldn't find anything better for the two of them to do. Or for Kyra Sedgwick, who's misused in a supporting role as Joe's greedy agent. (She's the focus of a noxious flatulence gag and little else.)
Also, Andy Fickman's direction is a little slack. A few scenes don't have the energy they need, which makes the film feel even a little longer.
"The Game Plan" is rated PG for athletics violence (football tackling and hitting), slapstick pratfalls, some crude digestive humor and references, and brief drug content (intravenous pharmaceuticals). Running time: 110 minutes.