Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has the kind of goofy, naturally unselfconscious charm that makes him perfect for family comedies. Unfortunately, no amount of charisma can make up for the slapdash feel and dull predictability of this overlong family comedy.
Joe "Never Say No" Kingman (Johnson) may be the Boston Rebels' star quarterback, but at the end of the day after the parties have ended and the supermodel girlfriends have departed for far-off runways, Joe is left alone with his trophies, Elvis memorabilia and his faithful bulldog, Spike. And Joe seems to like it that way: As he's fond of repeating, Joe firmly believes that "Beyond the field, nothing else matters," and he's fully focused on the game. With the championship coming up, Joe will have another shot at the prized ring that has so far eluded him -- plus a $25 million endorsement deal with a greasy fast-food franchise his aggressive agent, Stella (Emmy nominee Kyra Sedgwick in the most thankless role of her career), assures him is in the bag -- but Joe's game plan is disrupted by the unexpected arrival of an 8-year-old complication named Peyton Kelly (Madison Pettis). Peyton shows up on the doorstep of Joe's deluxe high-rise apartment claiming to be his daughter; her mother, Peyton tells him, has left her in Joe's care for the next four weeks while she helps build a water treatment facility in Sudan. When Joe tries to call her bluff, Peyton pulls out a birth certificate and a letter from mom to back up her story. Joe and Peyton's mother, Sara, were once married (this family friendly film is careful to avoid any hint of bastard kids born out of wedlock), but split up before Sara knew she was pregnant and decided to keep Peyton to herself. Joe and Stella are both concerned that Peyton's sudden appearance will mean intense media scrutiny that could seriously damage Joe's career, and sure enough when he accidentally leaves her behind at the opening of his new restaurant, the tabloids slam Joe as a "bad dad." Luckily, Peyton proves even more adept at manipulating the press as her dad, but getting Joe off the hook comes with a steep price: She demands Joe enroll Peyton her in a class the Boston School of Ballet run by Moninque Vasquez (Roselyn Sanchez), a pretty dance instructor who doesn't know Joe Kingman from Elvis, and doesn't care. Needless to say Joe and Monique's mutual animosity soon turns to a mutual attraction, and before this interminable comedy drags to its predictable conclusion, Joe learns a few valuable lessons in parenting from his own pint-sized daughter.
The unusual father-daughter bonding theme notwithstanding, Nichole Millard and Kathryn Price's script is basically a redo of movies like KINDERGARTEN COP, MR. NANNY and THE PACIFIER in which over-muscled hulks -- many of them professional wrestlers or bodybuilders hoping to segue into acting careers -- are paired with curly-haired tykes with attitude. Maximally bulked and buffed, Johnson perfectly nails the arrogance of swollen-headed athletes and can deliver lines like "Hey, my teeth are really white!" with convincing self-satisfaction, and in an unexpected moment, he even proves himself to be a more than competent crooner with a nice rendition of "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" But all that charm is wasted in careless scenes that don't make much sense -- the kids' ballet recital looks like it was staged by Andrew Lloyd Webber and features professional adult dancers -- and the whole thing feels slapped to together with chewing gum and spit.
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- Released: 2007
- Rating: PG
- Review: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has the kind of goofy, naturally unselfconscious charm that makes him perfect for family comedies. Unfortunately, no amount of charisma can make up for the slapdash feel and dull predictability of this overlong family comedy.… (more)