Inspirational sports movies have been one of those genres that continue to deliver more often than not. Most of them focus on professional sports, but every so often one comes along that takes on something a bit different and when done right really stands out. The latest, When The Game Stands Tall takes on high school football and stars Jim Caviezel, Alexander Ludwig, Michael Chiklis, Laura Dern, and Clancy Brown, but does it pack that emotional tackle needed to take it into the end zone or will it be a fumble on the play?
When The Game Stands Tall follows the remarkable true journey of legendary football coach Bob Ladouceur, who took the De La Salle High School Spartans from obscurity to a 151-game winning streak that shattered all records for any American sport, but when things take a turn in their unbeatable team the measure of a real man is tested. This is one of those films that take a great approach to the subject matter allowing the focal point to not just be about the game itself, but instead the coach and the values he strives to instill in these players. There are some great moments in this film showcasing not just the exciting game sequences, but tons of just characters bring a powerful emotional delivery to help bring it all home. There are not many fun moments here in regards to humor, but instead more truly powerful moments between individual characters and the struggles they are all facing on different levels. Caviezel brings his A game to the film really carrying this film and bringing the much needed leader to help keep the team grounded. The rest of the cast do a great job with their roles helping to make this film come together and deliver an emotionally charged powerful story that is about more than just football. There are a lot of underlying religious aspects to the film that aren’t pushed on the viewer but instead as part of the true nature of the story, but nonetheless help to add more to the story. Those wanting the football stuff will be pleased as well as there are plenty of action packed game moments that are shot really well.
This is one of those rare movies that manage to bring in a central character and use their influence to bring the other stories together without it ever feeling too cluttered. While there are some sad moments and a few tear jerker speeches, this manages to be an uplifting overall film that helps to remind people that there are still people out there striving to make the world a better place beyond the field.