Movie Reviews

When the Game Stands Tall (12/9/2014)

Rated PG for thematic material, a scene of violence, and brief smoking.

Starring Jim Caviezel, Michael Chiklis, Alexander Ludwig, Clancy Brown and Laura Dern

Directed by Thomas Carter (Coach Carter)

Dynamic ImageOn my short list of the best films of 2014.

Inspired by a true story, WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL tells the remarkable journey of legendary football coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel), who took the De La Salle High School Spartans from obscurity to a 151-game winning streak that shattered all records for any American sport. When the streak is broken, and tragedy strikes the team, Coach Lad must teach his players – and the entire town – that it’s not about how you fall, but how you get back up.

The heart of this film is the amazing true story of Coach Bob Ladouceur and the unbelievable record of the De La Salle High School Spartans. 151-game winning streak is truly amazing…as one coach on an opposing team says, “Nobody wins 151 high school football games.” And as impressive as that is, this film is more about what happened when the Spartans lost a game, ended the streak and bounced back. As Vince Lombardi once said, “It does not matter how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you get up.”

The cast is supurb. Jim Caviezel and Michael Chiklis are both great and even better together. Alexander Ludwig is strong as the player with an overzealous “football dad” played by Clancy Brown. As a dad, the scenes between these two are gut wrenching. We want our kids to succeed and do great things…but at what price? I loved how this film forces dads to think about that.

Another aspect of this film that I loved was the realistic game footage. Instead of using exaggerated highlight reel type scenes and CGI fans, Director Thomas Carter knows how to tell a compelling story while staying true the X’s and O’s of the game.

But without any question, it’s the film’s messages and teachable moments that make When the Game Stands Tall rise heads and shoulders above the rest. Coach Bob Ladouceur is an amazing coach and an even more amazing man. As a Youth Pastor, I found his character and love for his players to be both inspiring and motivating. There is so much we can learn from this film.

I loved everything about When the Game Stands Tall and look forward to adding it my collection. It’s “Worth Buying.”

YES! This film is clean with many teachable moments.


  1. What did Coach Bob Ladouceur demand from his players?

  2. What’s the difference between perfection and perfect effort?

  3. How did the players achieve perfect effort?

  4. What areas in your life do you have that kind of accountability?

  5. Read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

      Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

  6. What commitments can you make this week as you strive for a perfect effort as a Christ follower?

  7. Who can you share your card with to help you keep your commitments?

For another great resource using this movie, check out this link for a free Conversation Starter from Download Youth Ministry.


Jonathan McKee

Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Bullying Breakthrough; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.

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