Disclaimer: I was provided with a press kit for review.
When the Game Stands Tall DVD/Blu-ray is available for purchase at Walmart.
When the Game Stands Tall – Family Movie Night Review
The hubby and I sat down to watch this during my break, and as soon as the movie ended I looked at him and said “Good movie but the why was the lead actor was so dry, right?” He didn’t bat an eye and responded, that’s the coach not the actor. He then went on a 45 minute “conversation” where only he talked I’ll spare you from hearing. His essential point, the very best head coaches are very dry and consistent. And it’s rare you’ll find one that’s truly charismatic. I got bored so I looked up Jim Caviezel who played the coach and has also played Jesus and a number of other roles, though you’ll hardly recognize him. I then looked up Bob Ladouceur, and watched an interview and Jim nailed it, he’s dry, monotone and stays on message.
This movie follows Bob and his De La Salle Spartans through what has to be his most challenging year as a coach as the team falls after winning 151 straight games. After not losing for 11 years a team of individuals that has splintered apart and lost it’s way. After visiting a former player and seeing his mother on death’s doorstep, he returns home to have a heart attack. During his time away the team is defeated and after his return Bob begins to rebuild the team by taking them to a veteran’s hospital and having them work with people that are injured. Preparing them to get back on track.
Sub-plots are that of Terrence Kelly, a player destined to leave his disadvantaged upbringing for college at the University of Oregon. He is gunned down and there is a scene of the team attending his funeral. Probably the most emotion you get from Caviezel is during this scene. A second sub-plot is Chris Ryan, De La Salle’s running back chasing a career touchdown number. Throughout the movie it’s made clear that this record means much more to Chris’ father than to Chris himself.
In the final game after an up and down year full of adversity going into the final game Ladouceur has righted the ship and the Spartans had regained their swagger. Chris is 3 touchdowns from breaking the record. At the end of the game Ryan tells the team that they’re going to kneel and forgo him attempting to score and break the record. The QB says then you’re doing it and they set up the play to direct snap to Chris who kneels killing the play. He then turns to a smiling Ladouceur and gives a salute.
The movie is good and shows why Ladouceur was so sought after as a coach. His ability to both build a culture and then get buy in for that culture from his players is unique and something he seems to cherish. He doesn’t view himself as a coach and it seems his players respond to that.