(If this is your first time on this blog, I ask you to read my “About” page first! You can find a link to it at the top left-hand corner of this blog. Thanks!)
There was a time when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was in like every film! His popularity was one that made the studios want him in all their pictures, and Disney was no exception. Let’s take a look at the first Disney film that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson starred in!
And remember, SPOILERS AHEAD!
As the film starts, we’re introduced to the main character of the film, quarterback Joe Kingman, played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
Joe is a stereotypical successful quarterback: amazing in his game, beloved by all the football fans, extremely rich, owner of a penthouse, and quite cocky.
So as you can imagine, the story seems stereotypical in that this arrogant jerk is going to learn to be humble like in all those other movies. And usually there’s a kid or someone to make him learn about his responsibilities and mature, right? Enter Madison Pettis as Peyton Kelly.
Peyton arrives at Joe’s door and after the usual awkward “who are you and what are you doing here” questions, Peyton tells Joe that she’s his 8-year old daughter that he had when married to her mom, Sara Kelly, but the two have never met. Hmm…why does this sound familiar?
And of course, Joe deems the story ludicrous. He admits to having once been married to a Sara Kelly, but he knows for a fact that they didn’t have any kids together because…you know, you can’t really forget ever doing that.
Yet, Peyton has a battalion of evidence on her side: her birth certificate with Joe’s name on it as her father, a letter from Peyton’s mom explaining that she just dropped Peyton off and will explain everything when she gets back from wherever, you know…hard proof!
Joe then gets his agent Stella, played by Kyra Sedgwick, involved to help him with the situation. And when explaining the situation to Stella, he remembers that after he and Sara finalized the divorce, Sara came over to pick up her things and then the two of them…umm…did the deed, so to speak.
Ok, so there seems to be a possibility that Peyton is Joe’s daughter. Peyton further explains that her mom took a plane to Africa to help the children in Sudan get clean water or some such humanitarian effort, but Joe still can’t fathom the idea that her mom would just drop Peyton off just like that. Joe then asks why Peyton doesn’t stay with her mom’s sister, Karen, instead of coming all this way to him? Peyton replies that Karen died in a car accident.
Anyway, he can’t worry about that now. Joe has to learn to get along with Peyton in his life even if it means bringing Peyton along with him to practice,
preparing meals for Peyton,
and even giving Peyton the master bedroom to sleep in.
On the first night, after Joe has fallen asleep, Peyton receives a call from her mother in Africa who wonders if everything’s fine and how the ballet is.
Ok, so now we, the audience, are questioning Peyton’s innocence here. It seems clear that Peyton was apparently supposed to go to some ballet school and instead ditched that to find her father and then lie to both her father and mother about her whereabouts. The question is, why is she doing this? Is she trying to bring her father and mother together again? Hmm…why does this sound familiar?
Anyway, as the days go by, it’s clear that Joe is a new father as he makes the usual simple fatherly mistakes…like forgetting Peyton at a nightclub that he recently opened. And as you can imagine, this makes tabloid news!
He eventually gets the public to calm down by attending a press conference wherein Peyton helps lay the blame off of him at a price. What’s the price? Joe has to enroll her in the local ballet school taught by Monique, played by Roselyn Sanchez.
Monique initially refuses to accept Peyton at the time as the auditions have ended in the previous month. Then…2 seconds later as she sees Peyton attempt to copy what the other students are doing, she gives in and lets Peyton into her program on the condition that both Peyton and Joe commit to the program. Wow, what a quick change of mind that was!
But as we all could have told her, depending on Joe to commit was asking for too much. This is evident when Joe forgets to pick Peyton up one day from the ballet school. I wonder if new fathers really forget their kids as much as this guy does!
As punishment, Monique signs Joe up to appear as an “enchanted tree” in the upcoming ballet performance. Wow, Joe in two sports…interesting!
As the days go on, Joe becomes more affectionate to Peyton even so much so as to give her her own bedroom. And Peyton continues conversing with her mom in Africa and telling her everything’s fine even so much so as to send her mom pictures of herself at the ballet school to further strengthen her alibi.
Finally, the day of the ballet performance arrives and everyone proves to be a hit, even Joe as the “enchanted tree”.
Joe, Peyton, and Monique go out for a lunch date to celebrate. But Peyton accidentally eats some nuts (which she’s allergic to) causing an anaphylactic reaction that forces her to go to the hospital.
Joe, Monique, and Joe’s entire team are extremely worried and waiting around the hospital and they even get a surprise visitor:
Yep, Peyton’s mom returned from Africa early and once she read the news in the tabloids about Joe and Peyton, she rushed to the hospital to know what the heck is going on. Here is where we learn another secret. Apparently, this woman, whom we thought was Peyton’s mom, is actually Peyton’s aunt, Karen: the one Peyton said died in a car crash. And it was actually Peyton’s mom who died in a car crash.
This news comes as a shock to Joe. And to top it all off, Karen, played by Paige Turco, wants to take Peyton back with her instead of leaving her with Joe. Joe doesn’t like this at all and when Peyton realizes that a child custody battle may take place which can hurt her father’s career, she says that she wants to live with Karen.
And we all know what these stories are like. She and Karen are going to realize that they’ve done the wrong thing and come back and make things better, right? Right, that’s exactly what happens! Peyton admits to wanting to go back to Joe, Karen agrees with her about this decision, Joe is ecstatic to have his daughter back, and everyone lives happily ever after!
This film is definitely a combination of clichés, both Disney ones and just general movie tropes. But it is an enjoyable watch. The acting isn’t horrendous nor is it Oscar-worthy. The story is nothing amazing. Nothing about the film is good, but I think it’s worth one watch!
(You can click on the image below for an enlarged version of my rating sheet.)
So, the final score for this film is 21/35 = 60% (D-) !
The next review will be posted on May 5th.