By Kyle Minton
Sports films are tricky when it comes to the idea of being original in how the story is told, especially when you’re dealing with a film that’s based on real events. Though you need to stay true to the story, you face the predicament of telling the same story that has been told countless times before. And unfortunately, When The Game Stands Tall falls in to that very predicament. Though it’s not a film that deserves the 18% rating on www.rottentomatoes.com, it’s definitely a forgettable film with very forgettable performances that fall in to the “been there done that” area of sports films.
The film centers around the De La Salle High School football team of Concord, CA and their legendary coach Bob Ladouceur (played very blandly by Jim Caviezel). Seriously, Caviezel’s performance as this legendary coach is about as bland as a bowl of Kix Cereal. I’d believe the performance more if it revolved around the story of a legendary accountant. The team holds the longest win streak in modern sports history with 151 straight wins from 1992-2003. When the senior class of 2003 win their championship game, the upcoming seniors have an overwhelming sense of entitlement from being a part of the win streak. After the team shows signs of self destruction during the off-season, the school’s winning streak comes to an end after a devastating and crushing loss on the first game of the season. The movie deals with the stereotypical high school football film dilemmas; a running back whose father is over-demanding and abusive, the cocky wide receiver that learns that you’re nothing without your team, the coach with health problems and wondering if he’ll return to coaching the team, the son of the coach who plays on the team and doesn’t get enough attention from his dad, etc, etc.
Like I wrote earlier, the film is very forgettable but not to be condemned. The film’s heart is in the right place and I’m sure it’ll have some people who’ll love it. Especially those who were raised around the high school. But to someone like myself, I only see a trite, formula-driven sports film that we’ve seen time after time after time and again and again. Nothing new to offer from a cinematic point of view.
Grade – C+