Wednesday, August 27, 2014
WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL REVIEW
Based on the novel of the same name, the movie When the Game Stands Tall is an in-depth look at the De La Sallle Spartans football program. Led by their legendary coach Bob Ladouceur, the Spartans rolled off the greatest winning streak in football history, when their high school program won 151 games in a row. Jim Caviziel plays Ladoucer and does a tremendous job in portraying the stoic coach with a knack for using few words but making a n impact with what he says or does. Michael Chiklis of The Shield fame plays the role of Terry Eidson, De La Salle’s fiery assistant coach who serves as the perfect yang to Ladoucer’s ying. For the most part, the majority of the players are newcomers who do a fine job of telling the DLS story.
If there is a criticism of the movie, it’s that it differs quite a bit from the book in that it takes a look at the challenges that the team faced after ”The Streak” ended which included Ladoucer suffering a heart attack, as well as the difficulties the team faced in being the team that let the cherished accomplishment end. When the Game Stands Tall is in essence the story of how the team that was built on the principle of developing young men and preparing them for the world lost sight of what was important when they focused only on winning, where in truth the winning was always a byproduct of doing everything else right including giving a perfect effort every time they took the field. While the film does take liberty with some players storylines, and also mixes some of the timing that the actual events took place, it does stay true to the spirit of the team and what makes this team and coaching staff so special.
Though the movie is about the game of football, its message encompasses themes that resonate in all team sports: hard work, personal responsibility, determination, accountability, and most importantly, brotherhood. So that makes it a perfect movie as a parent or a coach to share with young athletes who can get a better idea about the things that really make you successful, which are not wins or losses, but character and commitment. A very highly-recommended film (or book) for audiences of all ages.