The new high school football bio-pic, When The Game Stands Tall is out this week and sadly it fumbles. You know when you see a ton of hype before a movie on TV? That usually means there is trouble - and there is.
Let's defend it up front first though. This is a great real story, that focuses somewhat on a really amazing man and football coach, Bob Ladouceur at De La Salle High School in Oakland, California. He deserves a much better movie than this, and that is the shame of this whole thing. This falls under the category of "big chance missed." This ends up being formula.
Ladouceur has been the head football coach at this high school for over 30 years. De La Salle has won 151 games in a row which is the longest winning streak in any organized sport ever. The streak comes to an end, plus the coach has a heart attack, and one of the teams most popular players is killed in a senseless shooting. How will these young men adapt and cope with all this at once? That is the story they put out there for you to think you will see. And you will. But sadly, they missed the boat.
The real amazing story is of Ladouceur. He is an incredible football coach that in today's world is a total throwback. He believes deeply that his role in this world is to prepare young men for life with football as the catalyst and not the main focus. Many of the kids he coaches are from horrible backgrounds in blighted areas of Oakland. His priorities are profound and somehow he successfully transfers this to kids who would seem reluctant to absorb such a message.