Photo Credit: Ron Phillips
© Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Semptember 28, 2007
Sports-Themed Family Comedy
Dwayne Johnson, Madison Pettis, Kyra Sedgwick, Roselyn Sanchez, Gordon Clapp
Andy Fickman (She's the Man)
Mark Ciardi and Gordon Gray(Invincible, Miracle, The Rookie ), partners of Mayhem Pictures
Nichole Millard and Kathryn Price
Walt Disney Pictures, in association with Mayhem Pictures
The King of Change
By Laura J. Bagby
CBN.com Sr. Producer
- Sometimes we don’t know that we need to change until life forces us to change.
In the recently released movie The Game Plan, quarterback Joe ‘The King’ Kingman starts off as a self-absorbed, self-promoting, shallow bachelor. His drive is toward popularity, power, and fame. He has the trophy girlfriend, a Russian supermodel called Tatianna, and a fancy penthouse apartment, and he dreams of NFL stardom and TV endorsements. All outward appearances showcase a man who has it all – money, power, beauty, brawn, an awesome career, and friends that back his dreams.
That all comes crashing down when the daughter he never knew, Peyton Kelly, ends up on his doorstep needing Daddy duty for a month while she attends a Boston Ballet camp, and Joe doesn’t know the first thing about fatherhood.
The star athlete whose self-proclaimed motto used to be “No. 1 on the field and No. 1 in your heart” begins to lose popularity quickly with his fans, his friends, and his sports agent and fails miserably as a dad. With his career and personal life on the line, Joe must decide if he has the guts and desire to change his narcissistic ways to be the responsible and tender father his daughter needs.
In this Disney film, the amazing transformation from bad boy to super dad happens very quickly. Joe becomes the hero we always knew he could be, he regains his daughter’s trust and wins her affection, and he grabs the fame that threatened to elude him while keeping his integrity.
From a purely family friendly perspective, the movie does a good job in providing wholesome comedy that both adults and children will enjoy.
Dwayne Johnson, who plays Joe Kingman, is proud of that achievement. "I've got a beautiful little 6-year-old at home who continues to challenge me in ways that I could never, ever expect," said Johnson at a recent film junket in Santa Monica. "I wanted to make a movie I could take her to."
Continues Johnson, the great thing about Disney is that "you are going to get a movie that is a great family comedy and a movie that develops a good, strong family message and a happy ending."
And that's exactly what you get with The Game Plan. On that criteria, overall I gave the film the "thumbs up."
But what if we were to dig a little deeper and consider one of the central themes of this film, the concept of true change, from a Christian perspective? What can we learn from our main character, the star quarterback?
An Average Joe
First, I think we can see fairly quickly that in many ways, Joe Kingman represents the fleshly way we think and behave when we aren't allowing the renewing power of Jesus Christ to transform us into the new creations that He wants us to be. Joe exhibits characteristics in line with both the unsaved person and the saved man or woman who falls back into carnal patterns.
Perhaps we were never the rising quarterback and maybe we were never popular like Joe, but undoubtedly there were times when we thought we were a force to be reckoned with, nonetheless. We thought we were all that and we tried to prove it out there on the field, but in actuality we were self-important and lacking and in need of a character overhaul, just as Joe was.
Few people told us the truth about ourselves, even though we desperately needed that reality check. Or perhaps they tried, as Joe’s married friend and Rebel teammate Sanders tried to do in getting Joe to reconsider his misplaced priorities, but like Joe, we chose to proudly ignore that perspective in favor of our supporters. Success and pride blinded us from having to truly face our sinfulness and lack of character.
We were in the same rut that Joe was in initially, desperately worldy: "For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world" (1 John 2:16, NIV).
Because of our big egos, we were headed for trouble. As Proverbs explains, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling” (16:18, NASB).
There was something amiss in us that God wanted to change, so He allowed a trial, a challenge, to turn us around so that we would have to face ourselves. For Joe, it finally came down to his daughter, Peyton’s, near-death experience that he felt responsible for and the resulting temporary removal of her from his home. For us, it might have come in some other form. Either way, when that trial came, suddenly we saw ourselves as we really were and we were crushed.
We realized we wanted to change; we realized we needed to change. But could we? How? And if we could achieve change, would it be only temporary or would it be permanent?
OK, now fast-forward to this present moment.
We all want instant change, just like the movie version. We want our messy lives to be brought to a heart-warming resolution in 90 minutes. Our Hollywood America would have us believe that, as with Joe, our transformation should be relatively quick and we shouldn’t suffer long-term consequences for our sinful actions.
This is considerably unrealistic, given that we as humans are so prone to fall back to our sinful ways when the cameras stop rolling, when the victory game has at last been achieved, when the daily drudge of continuing to do the right thing doesn't bring us instant or tangible success.
Any true change takes time. But more than that, lasting transformation takes much more than self effort and the prodding of those whom we love, which seems to be Disney's answer to Joe's behavioral dilemma. Ultimately, it takes the power of God. Our power source is Jesus Christ; it's not our own ability to tackle adversity and overcome.
“For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Phil. 2:13, NIV).
We simply can’t do it by human effort, as Tinseltown might have us believe. Selfish by nature, we can only exhibit the consistent characteristics of love, peace, patience, self-control, gentleness, and more when God is allowed to work in our lives.
We have to admit that we messed up royally. We don’t do this just to appease our fan base or to get us off the hook, as Joe Kingman did originally. No, we admit what we did as sin to our Creator, just as David did in the Psalms: " Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight" (51:4a, NIV).
And when we take full responsibility for our actions, and really admit to our wrong, God not only wipes the slate, but He also does what no human can do: He cleans up our hearts. The Bible says, ”If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, NIV).
We can start over fresh. But we will fumble again if we aren’t living out a walk of faith through a daily relationship with Jesus Christ. Just as Joe lived and breathed his obsession for football day in and day out, so should we make Christ the center of our daily focus. We check in with His playbook, the Bible, to keep us in the game of life. Our success in the field depends on it. John 15: 5 tells us, “I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing” (Amplified).
It’s tempting to believe that we can do it all ourselves. But ultimately we know that the true change agent isn’t us and it isn’t our sports agent. It’s not the adoring fans or the daughter we want to win back. It’s the King of Change, Jesus Christ. Let’s never forget.
For more about The Game Plan, visit the official Movie Site.
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More articles by Laura Bagby on CBN.com
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