There may be a lot of football in When the Game Stands Tall, but as Coach Bob Ladouceur makes clear, it aint about the football.
The movie based on a book, based on a true story, plays out more like an after school special than a true sports movie.
From 1992 until 2004, De La Salle High School in Concord, Calif., never lost a football game. Affectionately known as The Streak, the team won 151 games in a row during those 11 years of glory. Then it ended. The coach had a heart attack and to top it off, an African-American player was shot and killed. Miraculously, the team fought its way back to the top. By 2007, they were once again state champions and continue to be fairly successful.
An interesting as the anomaly may be, the movie is equally lacking. The acting is easily forgettable, and theres some unappreciated racial stereotyping whenever the nice, family-oriented white city is compared to the poor, black, crime-ridden neighborhood.
For those not savvy about De La Salle, the heavy religious aspect will come as a shock. A Roman Catholic private school, religion is a main focal point at times more so than football. Its an overwhelming theme that places the film in the wrong category. It also makes the film lose any quality it may have had. Instead of telling the story of an inspirational football team and its struggle back to the top, sections focus on the search for God and his guiding hand. Some may enjoy this element, and it makes sense at times knowing the team or at least the school is religious, but for the crowd this genre of movie typically draws, disillusionment sets in fairly quickly. Those seeking some football action, similar to Radio or The Blind Side, wont find it here.
By the time football is the focus once again, its hard to draw an audience back in. If more time was spent on the story and less on religious side steps, When the Game Stands Tall could have been enjoyable. Instead it fails to stand out in any memorable way and will be just another pseudo-sports movie on the shelf.