When the Game Stands Tall

Directed by Thomas Carter. Jim Caviezel, Laura Dern, Michael Chiklis, Alexander Ludwig, Matthew Daddario, Gavin Casalegno, Ser’Darius Blain, Jessie Usher, Clancy Brown. Tristar.

Decent Films Ratings

Entertainment Value
Value (+4/-4)
? +2
?Teens & Up

External Ratings


Content advisory: Lots of punishing sports violence; a fatal shooting; some drug references; brief innuendo and crude language.

From a National Catholic Register review

By Steven D. Greydanus

Sports movies love underdogs scrapping their way to the top. When the Game Stands Tall is about what happens when a ridiculously successful team finally stumbles.

Not many people openly embrace the famous remark, widely if erroneously ascribed to Vince Lombardi, that “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing” — but when your team goes over a decade without losing a single game, racking up more than 150 consecutive victories and 12 state championships, winning can become something more pernicious than “the only thing”: It can be taken for granted.

Thomas Carter, who directed the 2005 basketball movie Coach Carter, brings his game to the story of Bob Ladouceur, who coached football at De La Salle, a San Francisco area Catholic high school for boys in the Diocese of Oakland. Under his leadership the Spartans went undefeated for a dozen years, from 1992 to 2004.

The gridiron action is authentic-looking and exciting (or so it seems to this non-fan), though the bone-crushing sound effects become more pronounced the longer the movie goes on. Of course, the paradox at the heart of the sports-movie genre is that the game is its raison d’etre, yet most sports movies want to be about more than just the game.

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Tags: Fatherhood, Religious Themes, Sports

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