Verdict: 3 / 5
Who knew American football could be so entertaining? Director, Thomas Carter is back with another inspirational sports movie called ‘When the Game Stands Tall’ after he directed Coach Carter a few years ago. The film retells a true story about a high school football team in California that held a winning streak under Coach Bob Ladouceur for an astonishing 151 games.
The film stars Jim Caviezel, who’s most noteworthy role was Jesus in ‘The Passion of the Christ’ and has all the right ingredients for an inspirational ‘cheesy’ heartfelt sports drama. It shows exactly how the De La Selle Spartans football team remained the undefeated champions not because they encompassed the best players but because of the life lessons taught to them by their mentor and coach.
Coach Bob kept ‘the streak’ alive for many years through his teams discipline and dedication. However, keeping the fire alive was never his intention. It was his sole mission as coach to ensure that the boys in his team grown into honourable men with integrity and character; men that can stand as leaders in their family and community. The tables turn when coach Bob has a heart attack and the team has to attempt to upkeep their spirit of brotherhood in order to get through the season.
The biblical themes in the film are very apparent and it’s these teachings from The Bible that keep the team together after everything they go through. The narrative is filled with drama and each main character travels an individual emotional journey. However, the narrative did feel incoherent, especially in the beginning. There are a lot of sub-plots that were irrelevant.
The football games are packed with enthralling action moments of body bashing tackles and beautifully captured shots, but at times it feels as though the scenes on the pitch are very long. More emphasis could have been made on what happens off the pitch. However, this doesn’t take away from the fact that the cast give a genuine performance.
If you love American football I suggest you watch this film because the production value is fascinatingly high and the action on the field makes a WWE body slam look phony. Sports fans will love the last two scenes of this film. Overall, When The Game Stands Tall is appealing and it’s evident that Coach Bob’s approach to life was unique. The secret to what kept the longest ‘streak’ in football history alive is summed up in Matthew 23:13 that recites the most important element on team work, “It’s not about you, it’s about others.”