As a training manual for young athletes on the paramountcy of teamwork, When the Game Stands Tall may be useful viewing, but as a gripping drama, it’s dodgy at best. Loosely based on sportswriter Neil Hayes’ book about high school football coach Bob Ladouceur, who led his De La Salle Spartans to a historic 151-game winning streak, the script (by Scott Marshall Smith) wisely includes the game that broke the streak. The problem – and this goes back to teamwork – is that the film barely individuates its characters. “There’s no ‘i’ in team” makes sense as a motivational bromide, but wondering, “Wait, which guy is that – the Baptist or the one whose dad bullies him?” doesn’t exactly make for rousing entertainment, and Caviezel’s constipation-face take on Ladouceur is about as scintillating as reading decades-old box scores.
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