When the Game Stands Tall
Starring: Jim Caviezel, Alexander Ludwig, and Michael Chiklis
Directed by: Thomas Carter
Time: 115 minutes
The De La Salle varsity football streak of 151 straight victories is considered one of, if not the greatest win streak in sports history. The streak started when I was a 5th grader and finally came to an end in 2003 when I was a Junior in college. De La Salle was always the talk of Northern California when it came to high school football, and with their streak in the 100s during my high school career they were already legends. I was really looking forward to seeing this movie, I had read the book and was intrigued by a high school football movie set in Northern California instead of Texas or Southern California.
Director Thomas Carter had done a fairly decent job with Coach Carter which I enjoyed, it didn’t bring anything new to the table of high school sports movies but it was very watchable. I was expecting the same with When the Game Stands Tall, I imagined it was going to be formulaic and pull at the heart strings just enough, but not too much. Unfortunately my run of bad movies continues.
When the Game Stands Tall would be better served being shown on the Hallmark channel than on the big screen. The director is so concerned with churning out heartwarming scenes that he forgets it takes drama and context in order to make them heartwarming. The streak itself is glossed over in the beginning of the movie, so when it is broken you do not feel the emotional pain that should be felt with that dramatic of a loss. The film goes from attempted heartwarming scene to football practice/game back to heartwarming scene without giving any chance for the school or the characters to have any depth. Jim Caviezel’s portray of Bob Ladoucer is strained at best. While coach Ladouceur is a very soft spoken and quiet person, Caviezel’s portrayal of him makes him appear as if he doesn’t have the ability to show any emotion. It is draining and the viewer finds themselves struggling to discover why this man is able to bring such dedication out of his players. The only coach whom actually seems like a coach is Michael Chiklis who is completely over the top and very reminiscent of many high school football coaches. All in all the acting isn’t great, but even if it was it couldn’t make up for the script. Sadly this film does not live up to the high school football greats that have come before it. You are better served rewatching Friday Night Lights (movie or show)
Grade: C- (rental if there is nothing else)