Friday, August 22, 2014

Review: When the Game Stands Tall

Release date: August 22, 2014
Running time: 115 minutes
Starring: Jim Caviezel, Alexander Ludwig, Michael Chiklis, Laura Dern, Stephan James
Who to see it with: Your favorite sports movie nut


Do you like football movies? Do you feel the itch of the college football / NFL season right around the corner? Did you absolutely love Any Given Sunday, Friday Night Lights, and to a lesser extent Draft Day? If so, you might want to check out When the Game Stands Tall. The film is (loosely) based on the unbelievable De La Salle high school program that had an incredible 151 game win streak. This film deals with what happened after that; how the team and the town coped with rebuilding under the pressure of "the Streak." 

The main draw of this film is Jim Caviezel's portrayal of the almost inhumanely moral Coach Ladouceur. His philosophy of coaching and providing a program that not only creates great football players, but fine young men, is fun, if a little unbelievable, to see. The film does have clips during the credits that compare the actor to the actual coach and they are strikingly similar. At times he seems almost too calm, too collected, but maybe that's just the way the coach was. 

The downside of the film is that it is only "inspired by" a true story. It seems like this is a compelling enough tale to not have to take too many creative liberties, and yet the movie creates an entirely fictional main character to drive home some of Coach Ladoceur's main teachings. Some of the scenes are also too saccarinely sweet or cliched; the film basically has every sports movie cliche you can think of. Don't get me wrong, I love a good sports movie with all the inspirational drivel that comes with it, but this film piled it on too heavily. It's not a bad movie, and has some good football scenes and family values, but the fictitious nature of the story and overuse of cliches hurts what could be a compelling film.

Rent it.

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