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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Movie Review: When the Game Stands Tall

August is drawing to a close, and football is in the air.  If you needed something more to whet your appetite, Sony Pictures released When the Game Stands Tall in theaters this weekend.

When the Game Stands Tall is inspired by the true story of De La Salle High School's football team and their tumultuous 2004 season.  If you have seen any previews for this film then you already know that the film focuses on the Spartans' attempt to bounce back after the end of their historic 151-game winning streak.

As the Contra Costa Times pointed out, this movie is based on a true story, but it is not a documentary.  As such, composite characters and composite games are used to tell the very true story of Coach Bob Ladouceur, played by Jim Caviezel, and his commitment to educating young men on the field and in the classroom.  For those people who do not understand the importance and value of football in the lives of many young men, this film provides insight.  And for those of us who still cling to the ideals of the sport we love, it gives us hope.

Although the point of the film is that life is about more than football, When the Game Stands Tall contains more pure football than most other movies in the genre.  The dialogue on the sidelines is not just about brotherhood and teamwork.  It is also about an offensive tackle getting to the second layer of the defense on a sweep and the importance of sealing the edge on run defense.  One of the pivotal plays in the film does not involve a tricky, double-reverse, halfback pass.  Instead, it involves a draw out of the shotgun after the coaches observe the opposing linebackers selling out on their blitzes.

Like most sports movies, When the Game Stands Tall is certainly overly melodramatic in parts.  But, let's face it, so are sports.  That is why we love them, and that is why I loved this movie, too.

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