Review: When the Game Stands Tall

Director:Thomas Church

Cast:Jim Caviezel, Michael Chiklis, Laura Dern, Alexander Ludwig, Clancy Brown, Stephen James

Running Time:115 Minutes


This is the true story of high school football coach Bob Ladouceur who coached the De La Salle Spartans to a 151-game winning streak while instilling in his players what it means to overcome adversity and what it really means to be a man. 

The movie takes place in a 12-month span that pushes not only the team but the community in a way that many didn't think was possible.  There are heartbreaks along the way that makes everyone, including the audience, stop and think on their life.  From the previews, the movie looks to be almost a "wanna-be" Remember the Titans or possibly Friday Night Lights, but the only thing that these three movies have in common is that they both deal with football.  That's it.

Director Thomas Carter jumps from basketball (Coach Carter) to football with this film and does so swimmingly, especially on the football field.  It is a ballet of hits, passes and runs.  As stated earlier, the movie is based on true-life events, so when Carter shoots the more emotional scenes he does so a reverence and respect to those this occurred to.  He is able to get the proper emotion out of his cast, both the main stars and the bit players.

Speaking of which, the acting in When the Game Stands Tall was quite good.  I'm not at all shocked that Jim Caviezel, Michael Chiklis, Laura Dern or Clancy Brown all gave really good performances.  They are professionals and rarely give bad outings.  My shock came from the actors who played the football players on the team.  They did an amazing job and really brought you into the movie and along for the ride.  They have their world turn on its head and have to decide just how to move forward, and these kids sold it.  The only thing that maybe should have been changed was Jim Caviezel.  Please don't get me wrong--he gave a solid performance.  It's just that a little more emotion would have been nice.  What's sad is that, much like Friday Night Lights and Tim McGraw's character Charles Billingsley, this is based on a true story so Clancy Brown's very real portrayal of Mickey Ryan as the overzealous father still trying to live vicariously through his son Chris, portrayed by Alexander Ludwig, that much more sad.

The great thing about this movie and the reason that we, as consumers, keep coming back to these sports movies is that they are inspiring movies.  Whether they make you smile, or encourage you, or inspire you, the good ones keep you wanting more.  The only problem is that while the movie might be good you have to weigh that against time and money.  Is the movie worth going to see?  Is it worth spending your time on?  This movie is worth your time. It is a movie that shows what you can overcome when you put your mind to it and what constitutes as family.  But is it worth the $12-16 that you are going to spend on a ticket?  And that's just your ticket; we aren't even talking about anyone else's popcorn, candy or a drink.  That falls on to you the viewer.  If you are a parent that wants to take their kids to a wholesome movie that teaches values through football and being a good human being, then yes.  I would say go.  For anyone else, I would wait for Netflix or Red Box.


About Robert Bexar II

Robert Bexar II

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