It was the last film to be distributed by Buena Vista Pictures, after Disney retired the Buena Vista moniker across their company's divisions in the same year. The Game Plan was released in the United States on September 28, 2007.
In the last game of the American Football Federation regular season between the Boston Rebels and the New York Dukes, Rebels quarterback Joe Kingman (Dwayne Johnson) scores a touchdown after ignoring an open wide receiver, Travis Sanders (Morris Chestnut). The next morning, an 8-year-old girl named Peyton Kelly (Madison Pettis) arrives on Joe's doorstep saying that she is his biological daughter, and that his divorced wife sent her there to meet him. His agent, Stella Peck (Kyra Sedgwick), thinks this will be bad for his image and distracts him with the upcoming playoffs.
At the opening of his own restaurant, Joe inadvertently leaves without Peyton, and is on the cover of a tabloid the next day. Stella decides Joe needs a new fatherly image. At a later press conference, the reporters make Joe miserable, until Peyton comes to his defense, saying that he is new to this and trying the best he can, and that she thinks he is the best father in the world. Peyton then says that Joe has to repay her, so she has him take her to a ballet academy run by Monique Vasquez (Roselyn Sánchez). Monique has Joe join their ballet performance to show him that ballet takes just as much athletic ability as football. Joe and Peyton begin their relationship after Peyton calls his arrogant and selfish behavior to his attention. Joe takes Peyton and her new friends to the mall where he begins to develop romantic feelings for Monique.
The Rebels march through the playoffs via three road games: Denver in the Wild Card round, Indianapolis in the Divisional round and finally Baltimore in the Conference round. They eventually make it to the championship game held in Arizona in a rematch with the New York Dukes. Stella offers Joe a $25 million endorsement deal with Fanny's Burgers, a successful fast food restaurant run by Samuel Blake, Jr. (Robert Torti), if he wins the game and mentions the product to the press. While at lunch with Joe and Monique, Peyton accidentally reveals that her mother does not know that she is with him. She was supposed to go to a ballet school program for the month, but instead she ran away to be with Joe. Peyton then has an allergic reaction to the nuts in the dessert she was eating, and Joe rushes her to the hospital; however, the doctors tell him that the reaction is mild, and his daughter is going to be fine. Joe's former sister-in-law and Peyton's legal guardian, Karen Kelly (Paige Turco), arrives. She announces her intent to take Peyton home and he tries to convince Karen that he wants his daughter to stay. Joe discovers that Sara, his ex-wife and Peyton's mother, was killed in an automobile accident six months earlier, and that Peyton sneaked away on her own. After overhearing Stella explaining that Peyton would be a distraction to Joe, Karen and Peyton return home. Later, while going through Peyton's bag under her bed, Joe finds some photos and reads a letter from Sara, saying that she hid Peyton away from Joe, not wanting Peyton to be a distraction to him. As the championship game begins, Joe's mind is not fully set on the game and he is soon injured.
Joe is surprised to discover that Peyton has arrived with Karen. Understanding Joe's earlier words about how he wants to remain in Peyton's life, Karen decides to let Peyton live with Joe. Near the end of the fourth quarter, Joe passes the ball to the running back, Webber (Brian White), who gains positive yardage but fails to get out of bounds. Joe hurries his team to the line with the clock running, and rushes ahead before being knocked out of bounds. With time for one last play, Joe throws a lob pass to Sanders, who catches the pass, allowing the Rebels to win their first championship. In a post-game interview, Joe declines the Fanny's Burgers offer, insisting that he will be with Peyton. Joe, Peyton, and Monique dance together in Joe's apartment to the song "Burning Love".
Marv Albert and Boomer Esiason portray themselves, offering commentary in every game. Steve Levy also portrays himself as part of one game's postgame coverage for SportsCenter. Stuart Scott makes a cameo as himself on SportsCenter giving a report on Joe Kingman.
The Game Plan was filmed in the Boston, Massachusetts area. The movie was also filmed in three stadiums across the country: Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mile High Stadium in Denver, and Sun Devil Stadium in Arizona.
Johnson's character taking ballet lessons in the movie was an indirect nod to Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Lynn Swann, who took ballet lessons during his NFL career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Swann later worked as a reporter for Disney-owned ABC & ESPN. Swann left Disney for a career in politics while The Game Plan was in pre-production.
The film received negative reviews by critics and holds a 29% 'Rotten' rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Produced at an estimated cost of US$22 million, the film grossed $90,648,202 in the U.S market and $55,942,785 in foreign ticket sales and $50,643,312 brought from DVD sales, in its stay on the Top 50 chart, sales producing a grand total gross of $197,234,299, clearly makes this film a profitable venture for Disney. It opened at #1 at the box office grossing $22,950,971 in its first weekend in 3,103 theaters and averaging $7,396 per venue. It closed on February 18, 2008 with a final domestic gross of $90,648,202.
The Game Plan was released on Disney DVD and Disney Blu-ray on January 22, 2008. Through April 27, 2008, DVD rentals for The Game Plan were able to stay in the Top 50 chart, while earning more than $48 million. Special features include deleted scenes, bloopers, and audio commentaries.