A true tale of high school football achievement becomes a strained, by-the-numbers grab bag of uplift in the Christian sports drama "When the Game Stands Tall."
At the small California Catholic high school De La Salle, Coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel) instills brotherhood over personal glory and perfect effort over winning at all costs. The result: a record-setting streak of 151 straight victories.
The movie focuses on the streak's end in 2003 — two straight losses, yikes! — and as you might imagine, director
Caviezel, meanwhile, is too stiff to get at Ladouceur's soulfulness, readily apparent in an end-credits video clip. After two hours of football-driven story, being told, "It's not about the football," at the end seems disingenuous and patronizing, especially when tallying the potential brain damage from all the movie-glorified hitting.
For that intersection between sports and manhood, you're better off binge-watching the more effortlessly inspiring "Friday Night Lights."
"When the Game Stands Tall."
Running time: 1 hour, 55 minutes.