A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Game Plan is a cute family comedy that features football violence and pratfalls. Lots of people, including young girls, fall and only get minor injuries, and a parent's death is addressed. Peyton runs away to find her father and ends up in some very mildly perilous situations (being left alone at a club, etc.). It's worth noting that although the film makes fun of the insane commercialism of football, it also mentions more than a dozen products, and plugs the Disney Channel and Elvis movies.
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What's the story?
In THE GAME PLAN, NFL star Joe Kingman (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) thinks a lot of himself. He calls himself "the king," proudly displays his collection of trophies, and works hard to make sure everyone else loves him, too. He's also on the verge of having the biggest year in his career. As quarterback for the (fictional) Boston Rebels, he could take his team all the way to the championships this year. But when adorably doe-eyed and curly-haired Peyton (Madison Pettis) shows up at Joe's door announcing she's his daughter, Joe is thrust into a new role -- fatherhood. For a month, he has to figure out how to be a dad, prepare for the play-offs, and defend his way of life. But when Peyton gets seriously sick and returns home, can Joe go back to his playboy life? Does he even want to?
Is it any good?
What Disney always does well -- and what it does well here again -- is to create a world of safe adults in which kids can have their adventures. Peyton may have snuck away from home, but she's surrounded by mythic football players -- giant, harmless teddy bears whose worst qualities is their penchant for playing practical jokes on each other. The other thing Disney does perfectly in The Game Plan is squeeze every last bit of cute from every scene. The Rock clearly has fun with all of his character's funny faces, funny voices, and tantrums -- and so does the audience. There's so much that's genuinely adorable in this film that it's easy to overlook small problems like the predictable storyline and Pettis' limited acting abilities.
What's harder to forgive is the frequent product placement. The Game Plan pokes fun at athletes who all but plaster brands on their jerseys, but then it manages to showcase more than a dozen products. And then there's the nearly two-hour running time, which may make young kids a little fidgety. Still, this is a film with a great message. Joe learns to share -- share success, share his house, share his heart. And what child doesn't need to learn that lesson?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why kids want to see The Game Plan -- because of the story, or because of Disney's marketing campaign? What usually makes you want to see a movie?
Families can also discuss the importance of telling the truth and being generous. Why does Joe feel differently about his game after spending time with Peyton? And, parents, remind kids about why they need to stay with safe adults and not run off on their own, as Peyton does.
- In theaters: September 27, 2007
- On DVD or streaming: January 22, 2008
- Cast: Dwayne The Rock Johnson, Kyra Sedgwick, Madison Pettis
- Director: Andy Fickman
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts
- Run time: 115 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some mild thematic elements.
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
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