WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL
* * ½
(Schmaltzy football tale)
After Cumberland's showing at the Little League World Series, this schmaltzy football movie, based on a true story, comes across as far less exciting and inspiring.
Jim Caviezel (He played Jesus in "The Passion of the Christ”) is Bob Ladouceur, coach of the De La Dalle High School Spartans, winners of 151 straight games. Bob is one inspirational coach, a religious man who wears his Christian values on his sleeve, inspiring his charges as they decimate all the teams in their league (sort of like the Mount St. Charles hockey team). And then they come up against a powerhouse team outside their league and the string his broken.
The movie deals with how the team recovers from the devastating loss. It's hard to feel sorry for them, having kids who went to a public school whose sports teams didn't stand a chance against the private school teams.
There are good values taught about holding your head high and overcoming diversity. The coach is a closet smoker, suffers a heart attack at the same time one of his key players is shot.
And then there's the obstinate, controlling father who pushes his son to break a record, leading to a final scene that will have you cheering, even though it is contrived.
The entire movie is contrived, playing on your emotions, but never coming close to winning you over to a team that hardly ever loses. While life lessons are taught, our own Rhode Island Little League team teaches a better one.
Rated PG, with some violence.