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August 17, 2008
The Game Plan Blu-Ray Movie Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
1/11/20072/7/2008Walt DisneyAndy Fickman
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4Linear PCM 5.1 4.6MbpsGDwayne 'The Rock' Johnson

THE MOVIE
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Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Madison Pettis.

Be it Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Steven Segal or Wesley Snipes I have always been a fan of action movies and action stars. With that generation now moving on it was time for some new heroes and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson looked set to fill that gap. His first few movies were certainly in the action genre and included Welcome to the Jungle, Walking Tall and Doom. Recent efforts have seen Dwayne Johnson move away from action to more comedic and dramatic roles, one of which is the $US147 million grossing Disney movie The Game Plan.

A superstar with an ego bigger than a football field, Joe Kingman (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) is getting ready for a run at the big championship when the 8-year-old daughter he never knew existed shows up at his not-so-family-friendly bachelor pad. As the big game gets closer, he begins to realize the most meaningful win he can achieve is the heart of the one little fan who counts the most.

One thing that will surprise most people is that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is not only a quite capable actor, but one who has plenty of charisma and charm. Certainly enough that he can pull you though a near 2-hour children’s movie and still have you walking away very entertained. Equal to the task though is newcomer Madison Pettis as Joe Kingman's daughter Peyton. She lights up the screen whenever she is on there and unlike the kids in movie such as Are We There Yet is actually very likable despite her 'naughty' behaviour. It's clear that the two leads in this movie have a great chemistry and it adds much to the overall feel of the movie.

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Joe Kingman sits around the apartment.
Supporting cast also handle their roles well including Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer) as the money-hungry manager Stella, the gorgeous Roselyn Sanchez (Rush Hour 2) as ballet teacher Monique, and the numerous actors playing Joe's football teammates.

Director Andy Fickman hasn't taken any big risks with this movie, and to be honest he doesn't need to. This isn't art house. This isn't slapstick comedy. This is Disney. Fun, family, entertainment. The movie runs at a tight pace and even with a runtime of almost two hours you never feel like it is dragging on. Music from Nathan Wang suits the movie perfectly with appropriate changes in tempo depending on the scenes being presented. Integration of Elvis Presley's music into the movie is not only integral to the plot, but also provides some music which many youngsters will also be familiar with as well.

Despite being aimed at a younger audience even adults will fall in love with this movie. Dwayne Johnson is very likable, as is Madison Pettis. The script is impressive with plenty of humourous moments, and heart. It's no wonder this movie did so well at the box office, it's an uplifting, enjoyable tale.

VIDEO
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Now that's being safe in the car!

Encoded at 1080p in the films original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 using the AVC MPEG-4 codec this release continues Walt Disney's stellar presentation of movies on Blu-Ray. As such a recent movie it should come as no surprise at all that this transfer is free of any film artifacts and blemishes. Colour are vibrant, shadow detail impressive and contrast near spot on. Where this movie really shines is the numerous scenes located at the big Gridiron games where the screen comes alive with the colourful crowds and fast paced action on the field.

AUDIO
The main audio track on The Game Plan is an English Linear PCM 5.1 track encoded at 4.6Mbps. While not the highest bitrate possible for the format the clarity of the audio from this track is superb. From the Elvis Presley music in the opening credits, to the atmosphere of the big game with wonderful crowd effects, and the quiet dialogue moments everything is crystal clear. There is suitable use of the surround sound channels and sub woofer when required although there are obviously some dialogue moments which don't require such aggressive use of audio. Despite being a children’s movie this is still up there with the very best of them and could indeed be classed as 'reference quality'.

Other tracks on this Blu-Ray disc include English Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 640kbps, as well as French and Spanish DTS 5.1 tracks encoded at 1.5Mbps and French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks encoded at 640kbps. Each of these provides a more then suitable listening environment although there is certainly a step down from the English PCM track to the DTS tracks, and then from the DTS track to the Dolby Digital 5.1 track - exactly as one would expect.

Subtitles on the disc include English, English for the Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish and Icelandic.

EXTRAS
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Kyra Sedgwick is great as manager Stella Peck.

Despite being a kids movie there are certainly some extras here well worth spending some time on. Let's get to it then...

Chalk Talk: Essentially an audio commentary with director Andy Fickman and star Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson this has the added benefit of overlays being put onto the image to highlight points. The movie is often paused so they can discuss points in the movie in some detail. Unfortunately this isn't the best commentary track if you're looking for technical and production details, but it is quite entertaining as they point out some of the more amusing aspects of the movie. Younger movie fans will certainly get a kick out of this commentary.

Bloopers with Marv Albert (2:58/HD): Basically a set of bloopers and goofs from the production presented in an awards format. Brief, and not too funny sadly.

Deleted Scenes (25:50/HD): The twelve deleted scenes can be viewed with or without an introduction from the director. The scenes are pretty entertaining, and presented well (keep an eye out for the partially filled stands in the football match). Sadly the intro sees the director cutting nearly every scene for 'pacing'.

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Walking out wtih the Boston Rebels.
ESPN's Sportscenter (4:59/HD): This short featurette shows the ESPN Sportscenter documentary about Joe Kingman. You've seen most of it in the movie already. Interesting nonetheless.

Drafting the Game Plan (20:13/HD): Sadly this is a pretty run of the mill documentary where everyone glows about everyone else associated with the production and retells much of the story. There are some interesting moments, but they are few and far between.

Peyton's Makeover Madness Set-Top Activity (HD): This is a Java based mini-game in which you get to decorate a series of items with gems. Rather pointless, but probably fun for young girls.

OVERALL
The Game Plan is a wonderful movie which families can all enjoy together. No matter how old you are you're likely to fall in love with the characters, and even the story, in this rather predictable Disney fare. A brilliant transfer in terms of audio and video and a few decent extras make this a disc those with kids will want to add to their collection.

Review By: Dave Warner

THE MOVIE
7/10
THE VIDEO
9/10
THE AUDIO
8/10
THE EXTRAS
5/10
OVERALL
7/10

Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Walt Disney. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.