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Film 'When the Game Stands Tall' falls short

8/26/2014

It feels like the times are getting a little rough for the "inspired-by-a-true-story" sports film.

It feels like the times are getting a little rough for the "inspired-by-a-true-story" sports film.

I think the market is over-saturated, and the pool of available inspirational sport stories that haven't already been made into feature films in the past decade might be running a little dry.

What's more, it's hard to put a new spin on this genre when all of the new spins are old hat: Either the underdog team wins in a Cinderella-story victory or the team that has it all ends up losing it all and then finds redemption.

Unfortunately, "When the Game Stands Tall" is comprised of almost nothing but overused sports tropes and executes none of them overly well. The sports action itself is passable; and while the time spent on the field is by far the highlight of the movie, it fails to elevate the melodramatic collection of scenes that border it.

Furthermore, the dramatic elements of the story that take place off the field do little to up the ante of watching cinematic football. It's almost as if two different films were made and then inelegantly were stitched together.

Jim Caviezel, best know for his role as Jesus Christ in "The Passion of the Christ," attempts to lead a lost film about a lost team with little success. Caviezel's performance as head coach Bob Ladoceur is wallowing and tedious to the point it frequently, for me at least, detracted from the overall experience.

Perhaps Caviezel accurately was depicting Coach Ladoceur, but even if that's the case, it wasn't the Hail Mary play this film so desperately needed.

With football season just around the corner I would recommend digging up a copy of "Remember the Titans," or my personal favorite sports film, "The Replacements" starring Keanu Reeves.

4 of 6 stars

james.gerstner@gmail.com