My game plan as a parent: to surreptitiously get my kids to like all the things I like without them knowing what even happened. I like to sneak Rolling Stones and Beatles t-shirts into their drawers. I tuck retro comic books in between everything else on their shelves. When I read to them at night, I bring books into the rotation that I loved as a kid, and sometimes I eject the lullabye tapes from their bedroom player and softly play rock from the 70s and 80s as they drift off to sleep. I’ve taught them how to properly eat a soft-boiled egg and they know how to order a sandwich at any deli in the world. My goal: that when my kids grow up, we can enjoy some of the same tastes in things, and hopefully listen to some of the same music.
Which leads me to my point: I had an aha moment recently after my kids and I watched “The Game Plan.”
“The Game Plan” is a fun and funny movie that we all enjoyed. It stars the likeable mega-muscular mega-star Dwayne Johnson, who happens to be one of our favorite screen stars. Johnson has great comic timing but is also able to pull off sweet, sincere moments. Complete with his signature pec-popping and his thousand-watt smile, he delivers in “The Game Plan” all the things a Dwayne Johnson movie promises: he plays the comic fool, the comic idiot, and comes around to a conscious awakening by the end. Here he plays a football superstar, Joe Kingman, who’s suddenly and unexpectedly saddled with the 9-year-old daughter he never knew he had when she appears, literally, on the doorstep of his luxury bachelor suite.
The fact that we’re not football fans per se was irrelevant with regards to our enjoyment of this movie. If you love football, you’ll probably love that the gridiron is the backdrop for much of the movie. If you don’t, you’re in luck: Football is not truly the centerpiece of the story here.
Directed by Andy Fickman (“Parental Guidance,” “Race to Witch Mountain”) “The Game Plan” also boasts a terrific performance by Kyra Sedgwick as Kingman’s sassy, hard-edged agent. It’s a movie that falls into a genre that could be called “Crash Course in Fatherhood” comedies. Movies like “The Apple Dumpling Gang” defined the early days of the genre, and movies like “Three Men and a Baby” and “Big Daddy” continued the comic tradition. Dwayne Johnson is perfect for this kind of movie: He’s willing to truly look silly while playing a sports star on the top of the world, a role that easily mirrors his own persona. The greatest part of these movies is always the moment when the men come around to discovering they truly are better, happier men once they embrace their inner dad. On this front, Johnson delivers the goods with a heartfelt performance.
So what was the aha moment in “The Game Plan” when it comes to my musical motives with my children? After the movie, I asked my kids how they liked it. My eldest turned to me and said, “It was really funny! I liked it a lot, and I especially liked that there was an ELO song on the soundtrack. That was so cool!”
Words that make a grown adult smile. It looks like my own game plan is working just fine.