Review: When the Game Stands Tall

Based on the inspiring true story, director Thomas Carter brings the De La Salle High School story to the big screen in When the Game Stands Tall.

Carter directs from a screenplay by Scott Marshall Smith and a story by Smith and David Zelon. The script is based on the book by Neil Hayes.

The film boasts a cast that features Jim Caviezel, Michael Chiklis, Alexander Ludwig, Clancy Brown, and Laura Dern. The cast also includes Matthew Daddario, Joe Massingill, Jessie T. Usher, Richard Kohnke, Ser’Darius Blain, and Stephan James. Louisiana State coach Les Miles cameos as an Oklahoma State scout. Maurice Jones Drew cameos as himself.

This 115 minute film is about the remarkable journey of legendary football coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel). He took the De La Salle High School Spartans from relative obscurity all the way to a 151-game winning streak that broke practically every record in any American sport.

As tragedy strikes the team following the 2003 season, the streak gets broken early in the 2004 season. Coach Lad has to teach both his players and the town that it is not how they fall but how they get back up.

As awesome as the story of the streak may be, Coach Lad’s story is far greater than that. Coaches, especially in high school, must teach and mold their team into young adults. It’s about a tight-knit band of brothers on the gridiron that came to see that winning was never the point. Instead, it was the unflagging commitment driving the team to aspire to something that is far greater than any one trophy. The team had to show commitment to effort, believe, and each other.

Interestingly enough, Caviezel knows something about coaching legends as his father played for the iconic coach John Wooden.

Ladouceur isn’t known for being a drill sergeant type of coach. Rather, he’s known for his quiet intensity, ethical spine, and getting through to kids honestly and by bringing the same contemplative rigor that he brought to his religious studies classes. Caviezel captures him perfectly.

I highly recommend this film.