“When the Game Stands Tall” Review

Based on a true story, “When the Game Stands Tall” is sure to please a variety of audiences.

“When the Game Stands Tall” is a movie that chronicles one the greatest feats in football history: 151 consecutive victories resulting from the sweat, tears, and dedication of Concord, California’s De La Salle High School Spartans and Coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel) over a period of 11 years. At the same time, the film conveys an important aspect of how failure has the potential to remind us what we value in our lives.

The taste of victory has the potential of distorting what matters most, especially when achieving victory becomes the sole motivation of a football game. This feeling was collectively shared by the community and the Spartans. When failure stepped on the gridiron, the consequences tested the beliefs of the Spartans, the community, and Coach Ladouceur.

Disaster strikes the Spartans when Coach Ladouceur suffers a heart attack, subsequently placing him out of coaching until the end of spring. Once Coach Ladouceur returns, absent is the brotherhood, cohesiveness, and pride of being part of a team that players had previously shared. This leads to the Spartans losing their first game in over 11 years. Losing the winning-streak, along with losing the responsibility of continuing the winning record, further tested the members of the team. Following their second loss of the season, Coach Ladouceur teaches a lesson of brotherhood by volunteering the team members in a Veteran Affairs hospital.

The veterans instill a valuable lesson of cherishing work for the team rather than for individual glory. Throughout the film audiences are able to glimpse into the lives of team members, especially into the lives of Cam Colvin (Ser’Darius Blain) and T.K. Kelly (Stephan James). Each member of the team has different motivations, hopes, and spirit; however, once Coach Ladouceur is back into coaching, the Spartans nurture a collective determination of playing for the team. During their nationally televised game against Long Beach Poly, one of their chief rivals, the team utilizes their rediscovered brotherhood and wins the game against the number-one team in the state of California.

During the last game of the season, Chris Ryan (Alexander Ludwig) has to make the decision between playing for the team or for the glory that his father desires.

As is often the case, inspirational films can become overbearing, especially by dragging down the script with inspirational clichés, morals, predictable storylines. Although the energy and flare of football is felt throughout the movie, audiences are reminded throughout the film that morals are an important part. At times, the inspiration becomes bland from overuse.

“When the Game Stands Tall” is an inspirational film that balances the energy of football along with the morals it embraces. Although Christian beliefs are a foundation, the film touches a greater audience by instilling a message on how individuals can strive to find and understand themselves, along with how failure is not defining of one’s character.

The film balanced the glory of victory with family values and morals that were personally relatable. This movie is recommended to audiences of all ages (PG rating) with an emphasis on those wishing to feel the emotions that often accompany the spirit of football.

If going to the movie theater is not an option, classics similar to the “When the Game Stands Tall” are “The Blind Side” (2009), “Remember the Titans” (2000), and “Invincible” (2006).

Theater schedule

Hays 8 Starplex

2918 Vine


| 11:05AM | 1:45PM | 4:30PM | 7:10PM | 10:00PM

Showing times are good through Thursday.

FHSU Students can purchase tickets for $4 at the Student Service Desk in the Memorial Union.

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