CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for When the Game Stands Tall.
Football season is coming! Full disclosure here – I am a huge football fan. I love the game and all the teamwork, hard hits, wins losses and growth that goes with it. I love an underdog story and a dominant successful team story. When the Game Stands Tall brings both of those together.
When the film starts the De La Salle high school football team is on an incredible record-shattering win streak – the most wins by any sports team ever of any kind. Graduating seniors are riding the wave, college offers are coming in, and everybody is thrilled with the streak!
The head football coach is Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviesel). He preaches, he inspires, he teaches, and he does it all with his Assistant Coach Teddy (Michael Chicklis) by his side. But when a health crisis sidelines the coach, he has to focus on his family (some great scenes with his wife — played by Laura Dern) and the team… has to find it’s way again. And so does the coach.
The movie is not about the streak it’s about what happens when the streak ends. The emotion, the humanity, the love of the game and what it teaches you… that’s what the movie is about. It is very heavy handed on the preaching and inspiring, to the point of sappy in a screenplay written by Neil Hayes. I recognize the sappy, especially when the melodramatic score signals a sappy scene.
But! Being a fan of the game, I’m also a fan of football movies. This particular film is probably the best shot film in terms of actual football that I have seen. The hits are hard, the plays are real. Kudos to the director Thomas Carter for bringing the realness of the game to the screen. The audience in my theater were cheering as if they were watching a real game… that’s how real it felt.
Be prepared -there are a lot of storylines flying around and a lot of locker room speeches. Technically — in terms of good movie-making — it fails more than it succeeds, but in my book it’s still a winner.
THREE OUT OF FIVE COOKIES.
Rated PG for thematic material, a scene of violence, and brief smoking.