The Game Plan

Super bowl of cute: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Madison Pettis.

Directed by Andy Fickman, with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Madison Pettis, Kyra Sedgwick, and Roselyn Sanchez. Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. 1 hour, 50 mins. PG (mild sexuality). Playing at: area theaters.

The Game Plan, Disney's mushy, feel-good-till-you-gag movie, which stars Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as a football star forced to take care of the ultra-adorable, extra-(cheesy)-cute 8-year-old daughter (Madison Pettis) he never knew he had, relies on two fundamental axioms of American moviedom:

1. There can never be too many football movies.

2. There can never be too many Shirley Temple clones.

The Game Plan follows that two-pronged game plan without adding originality. It tries too hard to be nice while setting some kind of product-placement record for the sheer number of brand names it parades across the screen. (Now, that is not nice. It's obnoxious and cynical.)

The Rock is amiable and genuinely funny as Joe "The King" Kingman, the fish-out-of-the-gridiron who has to learn that girls don't like power shakes and that ballet is cool.

It's harsh to criticize an 8-year-old, but Madison Pettis' performance as li'l Peyton is little more than cloying, with fake smiles, forced dimple smiles, and scary-wide bare-tooth smiles. She feels fake.

After 45 minutes, you wish she'd go away. That's not good because the movie drags on for another long hour.

- Tirdad Derakhshani