‘When the Game Stands Tall’ fumbles the ball

By Owen Migdal, Round Table Editor

Previews flashed across movie screens for months telling us about the next amazing sports drama. Posters told us that When the Game Stands Tall is based off of an “extraordinary true story.”

They told us that it was the story of an underdog high school football team overcoming the odds and creating a record-breaking winning streak.  The movie is based off of an extraordinary true story that took place in 2004. The extraordinariness of the story did not translate into the movie at all; therefore, if you want to lose money on worthless expenses, have fun seeing this movie.

When the Game Stands Tall is like The Blind Side, Remember the Titans, Rudy, and any other classic football movie combined. The only problem with combining all these great movies is that it makes the plot messy and the film way too dramatic.

When the Game Stands Tall takes place at De La Salle High School in California. Bob Ladouceur, De La Salle Spartans varsity football coach, is almost the same character as Denzel Washington in Remember the Titans except for the fact that Washington’s performance was award-winning and was one of my personal favorite movies of all time. However, the movie When the Game Stands Tall does not even come close to being worthy of a nomination for anything.

There are a lot of emotional roller-coaster ups and downs. It starts by showing that the team is routinely happy because the streak has caused them to be neighborhood legends. The Spartans start the season off losing the first two games.

All of the sudden, bad things start to happen. Coach Ladouceur has a heart attack, one of the team’s star players gets shot at a party and the team’s running back is being publically harassed by his father when he is about to beat the record for the most touchdowns in the league.

It all works out in the end when they win the new season’s championship and start a new streak, although their coach doesn’t like calling it a streak because that is a selfish term.

The only convincing performances were from Clancy Brown and Alexander Ludwig, who played father and son. Ludwig, who played the role of Cato in the Hunger Games, was the Spartans starting running back, Chris Ryans. Chris Ryans was approaching a record for the most touchdowns while his abusive father Mickey Ryans, played by Brown, was pushing him too hard to try and get the record. Mickey Ryans is the stereotype sports movie father trying to live his football dreams through his son. These two actors’ performances are actually some of the best acting I’ve seen this year.

One other scene replayed in my head after I saw the movie. Following some of the hardships, Coach Ladouceur decided to bring his players to a hospital for American war veterans. At the end of this scene, Coach Ladouceur’s son, the quarterback of the team, starts to race a man with a prosthetic leg on a treadmill. Everyone else in the workout room is either cheering for a fellow service member or for their peer. I thought that the ending of the scene was completely unnecessary considering that the scene portrayed a great message of helping people in need. Instead of the message getting through to me, all that came off was another workout scene, of which there had already been more than enough.

Sony Pictures really fumbled the ball with this movie. If you really want to see When the Game Stands Tall, wait till it comes out on Netflix or Hulu and watch it for free.