The release of When the Game Stands Tall is perfectly timed for the beginning of the high school, college and pro football seasons. That's unusual. A lot of times, producers seem to be clueless about such things.
To be clear, it's about all that's unusual about the movie.
When the Game Stands Tall is the true story of California's De La Salle High School Spartans, their coach Bob Ladouceur and his coaches and teams who -- at 151-games -- hold the longest winning streak ever in any competitive sport.
And that's by light-years.
Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ) stars as Ladouceur, Michael Chiklis (TV's The Shield) is his assistant coach Terry Eidson, and Laura Dern plays Ladouceur's wife Bev. The only other known cast is Clancy Brown, who plays the jerk of a father for one of the team's stars.
Outtakes show the real Ladouceur talking to the media and to his team, and Caviezel nails his delivery. Unfortunately, the dialogue he has to utter is less inspiring than the real deal. Dern and Brown give cardboard cutout performances, and the only actor having fun is Chiklis, who provides a bit of comic relief.
The streak and the incredible skill of Ladouceur and his coaches to get the young athletes to excel at the game, and even more importantly, to excel as human beings after football, is truly inspiring. How director Thomas Carter (Coach Carter) and writer Scott Marshall Smith (The Score) tell that story is predictable, lackluster and flat.
That's too bad. This is a good film that -- with a little more work -- could have been as great as the coaches, team and events that inspired Neil Hayes' book and this movie.
Director: Thomas Carter
Stars: Jim Caviezel, Laura Dern, Clancy Brown, Michael Chiklis
Mr. Movie rating: 3 stars
Rated PG for mature themes. It's playing at Regal's Columbia Center 8, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.