When the Game Stands Tall falls flatLos Angeles Post-Examiner

When the Game Stands Tall is unapologetically sappy and falls flat

Stands Tall-Feature

Jim Caviezel

Jim Caviezel

1 out of 4 stars

You’re bound to get the same old themes with sports films. “Love of the game,” “perseverance,” “faith,” etc. rarely are left out, especially in American football films of the past few decades. Following in its predecessors’ footsteps (Remember the Titans, The Blind Side, and Friday Night Lights, just to name a few), When the Game Stands Tall unflinchingly embraces the sportsmanship and humanity that we expect as an audience. Based faithfully on Neil Hayes nonfiction book, the film unfortunately sets up stakes and urgency that are never earned.  Emotional blackmail from the director and a limp script from the writer pair poorly in a film that never quite adds up to much of anything, save for some exciting football scenes.

De La Salle High School in Concord, California rose to fame thanks to its powerhouse football team, the Spartans. With the leadership of Coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel) and Assistant Coach Terry Eidson (Michael Chiklis), the team gained recognition for what was called the Streak: a 151-game winning streak by a single team that stretched over an incredible thirteen years. In 2004, that streak ends in a soul crushing defeat on the first game of the new season.

Michael Chiklis

Michael Chiklis

Team captain Chris Ryan (Alexander Ludwig) and his teammates struggle to regain the confidence to continue the season after such humiliation, Ryan in particular due to the incredibly high expectations placed on him by his helicopter dad (Clancy Brown). Coach Ladoucheur faces the challenge of leading his team with humility and faith, but must simultaneously balance an uneasy family life with a loving wife (Laura Dern) who simply does not get any time with her husband.

The structure of this film has major issues. The nonfiction source seems to have been left untouched by writer Scott Marshall Smith (Men of Honor, The Score) and subsequently leads to several huge plot problems in terms of build and conflict. The first forty-five minutes (FORTY-FIVE) of the two-hour movie serve as lead up and exposition for the fated game. This late strike of conflict destroys all focus and makes the characters’ issues much less impactful.

Laura Dern

Laura Dern

Any smaller complications that arise along the way as subplots simply distract and confuse the plot. Even worse, some resolve themselves within five minutes, ultimately not serving the dramatic build. And even worse than that, some simply disappear entirely never to be mentioned again. To top it off, the climax of the film is misplaced. The last twenty minutes could and should be cut from the film entirely and instead create an anticlimax right after a clear dramatic apex has been achieved.

The pleas for the audience to give their tears disconcerts even more so however. The team travels to the veterans’ hospital, the coach experiences a significant shock in his life, and even more spoiler-y plot points occur that could serve the film to provide insight into the team’s mindset coming into each game, but instead are handled by director Thomas Carter (Swing Kids, Coach Carter) as emotional traps, thanks to an inappropriately soaring score by John Paesano (The Maze Runner) and unsubtle reactions of “realization” from his characters.

Carter handles the football sequences quite well however, using slower sound bites to show impact and injury effectively. And his work with his actors overall seems to have overcome some unabashedly clichéd lines from Smith.

Ser’Darius Blain (Facebook)

Ser’Darius Blain

Caviezel instills intensity into every word he utters, which works against him. He concentrates so intently on his whispered delivery, his character becomes one note throughout. Chiklis and Dern do their jobs well here, but because their characters’ arcs are so choppy, their motivations and relationships never mesh well into the film. Ludwig still needs some time develop into the actor he has the potential to become, but like most of the other young actors here, he comes across flat.  Especially next to Ser’Darius Blain and Stephan James, who maybe give the most impressive performances here as two recent graduates of De La Salle. But because their chemistry together succeeds so well, their scene feels pasted in from another movie when compared to everyone else’s mediocre work. But Brown has drawn the short straw here, being given more of a Disney villain than a complex antagonist with which to work.

The success of other, better football-themed films lied in a well-framed story that never pandered to its audience. The well-drawn characters never had a third-party agenda to push and instead stood out as individuals in an ensemble the size of a … well … football team. When the Game Stands Tall does not trust its audience enough to take away their own meanings from this story and instead forces an emotional reaction to an annoyingly noticeable point. Even if the framework were firmer and the ensemble stronger, no one wins when emotional rulings are dictated so strongly.

(All photos are screen shots from YouTube, unless otherwise noted)

About the author

Mark McCarver

Mark McCarver was born and raised in Houston, Texas and has been involved in theater and film since he was a kid. He spent the past few years acting and directing across Texas before moving to Washington, DC in the fall of 2012 to get a taste of the East Coast’s entertainment industry. Mark holds a BA in Drama from Trinity University and trained at the Syracuse University - London Drama Program and Shakespeare’s Globe. He is a company member with Half Mad Theatre in Washington. Contact the author.

Trackbacks for this post

  1. paintless dent repair training
  2. pdr training
  3. eLiquid
  4. obat klg asli
  5. tannlege
  6. mountain spring coffee flavors
  7. best breakfast coffee
  8. best dark coffee
  9. dallas pdr tools
  10. Jewelry online
  11. sportwetten online
  12. dedicated server hosting
  13. canlı sohbet hattı
  14. online shopping
  15. lsd blotterart
  16. domain registration
  17. sohbet hatti
  18. lion coffee company
  19. /vanilla-macadamia-nut-coffee-ground-10-oz
  20. Direct Shipping to China
  21. Translation Company
  22. ขวดพลาสติก
  23. best movers
  24. anxiety newport beach
  25. Tactical Vests Nuker
  26. sai review
  27. Car Service Boston
  28. طراح گرافیک
  29. pet crematory
  30. agencja reklamowa
  31. pdr training
  32. online bidding
  33. Fülöp Henrik
  34. Signal Boosters
  35. Opciones Binarias
  36. make money online
  37. dent removal school
  38. paintless dent removal course
  39. royal kona coffee
  40. gourmet hawaiian coffee
  41. kona coffee
  42. kona coffee
  43. google
  44. coffee beans
  45. coffee beans
  46. coffee beans
  47. Blogging
  48. motorcycle repair Jacksonville Florida
  49. Hunting gear
  50. wax applicator
  51. beach porn videos
  52. sohbet hatları
  53. евтини мъжки тениски
  54. discount flight tickets
  55. Apple iPhones deals
  56. Opciones Binarias
  57. chanel brille
  58. car repair
  59. seo consulting
  60. classic lingerie
  61. hop over to this website
  62. Pet GPS Tracke
  63. Wristwatches
  64. news
  65. fishing paddle board
  66. pdr training course
  67. check it out
  68. custom logo grommet
  69. open ring prong snaps
  70. pearl prong snap button
  71. snap installation tool
  72. afco coil springs
  73. where can i donate a car
  74. Buy Followers Facebook
  75. bantningspiller
  76. Big Banner Stands
  77. Promo Counter
  78. buy twitter followers cheap $5
  79. see this here
  80. appliances
  81. kona coffee
  82. kona coffee
  83. Tramadol
  84. kona coffee
  85. Get Insta Likes
  86. Free classifieds
  87. canlı sohbet hattı
  88. metaphysical
  89. blotterart
  90. pdr training
  91. tent rentals
  92. gourmet coffee beans
  93. KASINO LIVE Indonesia
  94. filme on line
  95. プラセンタ
  96. his response
  97. plantas purificadoras
  98. web
  99. straight from the source
  100. tower garden
  101. Dr. Jessica Renfer
  102. classic kona coffee single-serve
  103. single-serve coffee cups
  104. kona coffee
  105. خرید ویندوز 10 اورجینال
  106. Islamic Art Collection
  107. hawaiian-isles-coffee/100-pure-kona-coast-coffee-ground-7-oz
  108. vanilla macadamia nut coffee
  109. hawaiian-isles-coffee/sansei-french-roast-coffee-ground-10-oz
  110. party tents
  111. spiro michals
  112. this link
  113. kona coffee
  114. The MLS Real Estate
  115. create your own app
  116. Shisha lounge in wembley
  117. Miniclip.com
  118. The MLS Home
  119. anti rayap
  120. backlinks
  121. check these guys out
  122. Baler
  123. wallpapers
  124. acheter follower twitter
  125. undiscovered musicians
  126. earn money from home
  127. nexiq
  128. mobil porn
  129. mobil porn
  130. porno
  131. 他妈的谷歌
  132. Android
  133. coffee from kona
  134. 他妈的谷歌
  135. 手錶手機色情
  136. oblečení
  137. ویندوز اورجینال لپ تاپ سونی
  138. house for sale
  139. 我他媽的谷歌
  140. Web Wealth System
  141. Agen Bola
  142. free slots free slots free slots
  143. descargar gratis
  144. Polygraph
  145. app maker
  146. stainless steel thermos
  147. 列治文 买房
  148. wildlife removal
  149. iPhone Doktor Bremen
  150. zip
  151. Augsburg
  152. Steel Tip Darts
  153. Queen Hair Company
  154. real estate sites
  155. try here
  156. Used car dealer
  157. Star Trek
  158. supplies
  159. friv
  160. hawaiian gourmet brands
  161. flavored coffee classics
  162. dpboss
  163. garden tower website
  164. viagra pills
  165. 福井脱毛
  166. sewing thread
  167. android tv box review
  168. life insurance lawyer
  169. tampa bay magazine
  170. oakleys cheap
  171. Fenster und Turen
  172. qweqweqe
  173. qweqweqe
  174. qweqweqe
  175. kona coffee beans
  176. methode de guitare
  177. gourmet hawaiian coffee
  178. chrome paint uk
  179. Home Surveillance
  180. Home Automation
  181. awiz for love
  182. details
  183. call forwording virtual number buy
  184. penny auction guide
  185. yenchua.com
  186. регистрация ооо в Киеве
  187. funny pictures
  188. black magic for love
  189. kala jadoo
  190. Latex Inks distributor
  191. vacation
  192. satta matka
  193. trucchi slot machine
  194. doktor
  195. project management
  196. Youtube to mp3 converter
  197. piano lessons in atlanta
  198. SEO services in Lahore
  199. Download PC Games
  200. bookfra
  201. make an app
  202. satta matka
  203. Your Domain Name
  204. About
  205. click for more info
  206. Turen
  208. vacation
  209. recipes
  210. kala jadu
  211. kala jadu
  212. health benefits of honey
  213. Computer Repair Service
  214. Best Companies
  215. fanuc
  216. genuine email processing jobs
  217. portable dvd player
  218. インフルエンザ
  219. インフルエンザ
  220. book of ra download free
  221. how does the brain work
  222. sinhala news
  223. Egyptian Cotton bath towels
  224. recycle
  225. anal sex
  226. weird sex toys
  227. shopping sex toy
  228. anal plug
  229. Best vibrator
  230. What are Human Rights

Leave a Comment

Comment Policy

You must be logged in to post a comment.