New in theaters this week is “When the Game Stands Tall” based on the true story of high school football’s longest winning streak.
Jim Caviezel plays Bob Ladoucer, the real life coach who took his De La Salle high school team on a 151-game win streak. The players get cocky and of course, break the streak so we get to watch them rebuild.
Sports movies are essentially all the same when you get down to the bare bones. You meet a competitor and watch them fall just long enough to care and then you watch them soar. A GOOD sports movie will make you not CARE that you already know the ending and a great sports movie will make you care even when you don’t care about that particular sport. Sadly, “When the Game Stands Tall” is not a great sports movie.
Caviezel’s coach talks about his team as if they’re a platoon risking their lives on a battlefield. He says that instead of making football players he’s making productive adults but all we really see is kids playing football. No one takes care of each other OFF the field and there’s no obvious character building. They get surly when they lose and happy when they win. The only message we learn from “When the Game Stands Tall” is that losing is bad and winning is good, which is the exact opposite of the message it’s supposedly sending.
That didn’t seem to matter to the people at my screening though. I heard more than one person openly weeping during the sad scenes and there were cheers during the final big game. IF you love football and football movies you’ll probably enjoy this one but I have to give “When the Game Stands Tall” a C minus. Make sure you stay through the credits though to see footage of the real Bob Ladoucer and his team. Oddly enough, it was my favorite part of the whole movie.