You know how guys are always complaining about chick flicks? Yeah, I just discovered something. Inspirational sports movies are nothing more than chick flicks with enough rugged sports mixed in to make men still feel manly for watching then. Rocky, Rudy, Any Given Sunday…every last one of them cleverly disguised chick flicks. If that’s not enough for you, I have a new example…When the Game Stands Tall.
Inspired (probably loosely) by a true story, when the Game Stands tall tells the story of football coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel). The coach is known for being the man who took the De La Salle High School Spartans from obscurity to a 151-game winning streak. Then, like all good things, his winning streak comes to an end and tragedy strikes the team. Then, everyone learns the true meaning of friendship as they sit around drinking tiny coffees and talking about what they’ve learned from being strong southern women.
Ok, so I made the last part up, but it wasn’t much of a stretch. When the Game Stands Tall makes a classic mistake in sports movies. It tries too hard to be uplifting and inspirational. Shoot for “Forest Gump” inspirational and not “after school special starring those Jesus vegetables” inspirational.
To give this movie some props, I have to say the pacing was excellent and there was a judicious use of angles, especially when filming sports related moments. The direction itself draws the viewer in, making them want to become part of the story.
Then the characters talk and ruin the effect. Every character is a cliché, from the dad living through his son’s glory, to the thankless, long suffering wife and the grizzled but noble coach. Occasionally, I get the feeling that a movie is making fun of me. Like someone in Hollywood is saying “just make it as sappy and inspirational as possible. These idiots eat this stuff up.”
This is nowhere near sports movie greatness. It’s barely even memorable. From the over the top name, to the over the top script, you’ll feel like someone is beating you over the head yelling “are you inspired yet?”
A few bible passages are slipped in and of course, the coach is also a religious studies teacher. We didn’t have one of those in my high school, but whatever. Here’s an unrelated side note, Jim Caviezel also played Jesus in the Passion of the Christ. Yes, it’s hard to recognize him without all the blood, but that was Jesus in the Passion of the Christ…which is still the finest snuff film I’ve ever seen. This movie taught me something, though.
When you’re waiting for Kirk Cameron to make an appearance…that’s how you know you’ve gone too far on inspirational.
On its own, the story was good. When it’s forced to be a feel good flick, it turns so sweet, it gets inedible. That’s too bad, because this could have been good. I think half the problem with the movie (and it feels weird saying this about Jesus) is Jim Caviezel. He’s really a one trick pony. He plays stoic very well, but nothing else. I swear, his face is chiseled from stone.
This one might be a skip for anyone but the most die hard sports/ chick flick lover.
WE GAVE IT: 3.5 Stars – Watch the Official Trailer and Official Movie Poster below!