Movie Reviews: When The Game Stands Tall




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     Sony (1hr. 57 min.)
     The journey of legendary football coach Bob Ladouceur, who took the De La Salle High School Spartans from obscurity to a 151-game winning streak that shattered all records for any American sport.
     Jim Caviezel, Alexander Ludwig, Michael Chiklis, Laura Dern, Stephan James, Jessie Usher, Ser’Darius
Bottom Line:

Laurence Washington

“When The Game Stands Tall” is a football movie about life lessons and inspirations. Oh, yeah – and football – but mostly life lessons.

Inspired by the true story of California’s De La Salle High School’s winningest high school football coach, Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel), “When The Game Stands Tall’s” premise hinges on the team’s 151-game winning streak that comes to a screeching halt after Ladouceur suffers a heart attack and one of De La Salle's best players, Terrence Kelly (Stephan James) is murdered the night before he was to leave on scholarship at the University of Oregon.

“When The Game Stands Tall” is an uneven movie. The off the field drama and gridiron action doesn’t mesh seamlessly together as with "Remember the Titans (’00)" or the beloved "Rudy (’93)." The trailer pitches the film as a comeback flick about a team that bounces back after a teammate’s murdered. Which is true, but it’s a small part of the film that should have been better fleshed out.

That not to say “When The Game Stands Tall” is a bad movie. There are plenty of heart-wrenching moments such as the players reading their commitment cards outlining their person goals and team dedication. There’s also a father and son subplot: Ladouceur and his son, whose on the team, and the team’s star player’s conflict with his win-at-all-cost father.

However, much of the first half is about Ladouceur’s tutelage involving character building and shaping player’s lives – with a dose of how to weather unfair things that happen to good people in life.

To the film’s credit the director didn’t fall prey to the tired Hollywood cliché where the hero is losing on the field, spots their loved one in the crowd, then is inspired to throw the winning touchdown. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

The end credits show the actual Bob Ladouceur coaching up his team – a cliché that biopics can’t resist. During a summer saturated with comic book superheroes, “When The Game Stands Tall” is a refreshing portrayal of a real superhero.

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