In Southern California, there is a football team that destroyed the record for the most consecutive game wins in the country. “The Streak” ran a staggering 150 wins and no, this isn’t an NFL team or even college ball but a high school team: The De La Salle Spartans. At the helm are Coach Bob Ladouceur and his best friend assistant coach Terry Edison. Ladouceur is a calm and collected coach who doesn’t yell or berate his team but they can sense his intensity. He is also rather unconventional because he doesn’t get caught up in the hype about the twinning streak and makes sure his players don’t either.
He is a family man when he is around but coaching and teaching monopolize his time. His students have some worries of their own. Two of the juniors that are about to run the team are Danny, the coach’s son, and Chris Ryan. Ryan is about to break the CA state record for the highest number of touchdowns and his father is relentless about breaking the record. Cameron Colvin just found out his mother is dying and he has to take in to account what to do for his little brother. His best option is to go to school in Miami but his best friend TK reminds him that he promised to attend Oregon and play college ball together. This is only the beginning of the personal crossroads but they are about to take a downward spiral from being on top.
The film WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL is directed by Thomas Carter. He has also directed COACH CARTER and SAVE THE LAST DANCE. He is a very good story teller with his style being films of inspiration and this movie is no exception. There are constant reminders that there are things in life that are more important than sports.
The story is moving and the real Bill Ladouceur should be proud of how he is portrayed. Jim Caviezel always has a comforting way about him on or off screen.
The other big stand out in the movie is Alexander Ludwig. He has been in many movies where he is, for lack of a better word, a jerk. In this, he is an incredibly respectful kid that knows that the team is bigger than him. To throw out a cliché, “there is no ‘I’ in team” and he is the captain for a reason. His acting is good throughout the movie but during the final game, Ludwig shows his skills.
The film is very inspirational and does have a Christian undertone to it but religion is never in your face. It is subtle enough to never overwhelm you with the message that it’s trying to convey.
Jim Caviezel as Coach Bob Ladouceur
Laura Dern as Bev Ladouceur
Michael Chiklis as assistant coach Terry Eidson
Alexander Ludwig as running back Chris Ryan
Gavin Casalegno as Michael Ladouceur
Clancy Brown as Mickey Ryan
Ser’Darius Blain as Cam Colvin
Stephan James as Terrance G. “T.K.” Kelly
The video transfer for WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL is very bold but not overpowering. It’s a 1080p AVC that feels like it’s in California. The color that stands out the most is green. It’s brilliant on the football fields and the hues are a little darker for the school colors. The skin tones tend to go from warm during the interior scenes to a little washed-out when outdoors. There transfer has a lot detailing in the images from the small tears in the player’s jerseys to the blades of grass on the football field. Overall, it’s a really clean transfer but not quite what I would expect from Sony.
The DTS-HD MA track for the movie is pretty powerful. Because a lot of the movie is on the football field, there is consistently ambient sound coming for the crowd and sidelines. There is no mistaking that this is a football movie for a few reasons other than the crown noise. The hits from each play of the player’s clashing helmets have a blending of crunching treble and pounding bass. You’re not just hearing the hits but you can practically feel each one. Also, the score thumps with clean precision that allows the viewer to feel the intensity in the scene. The flipside to those same scenes is all of the various parts of the track lose some of their separation at times. Sometimes a sound effect might drop out or the music gets lost. It’s a minor thing but it is very noticeable to the trained ear.
The extras on the release are a bit above average and the features have a lot of info on bringing everything together for the film.
-Audio Commentary with Director Thomas Carter: Director Thomas Carter goes over almost every facet of the movie in the commentary. This is a hefty commentary track to get the most out of the filmmaker.
-Audio Commentary with Director Thomas Carter and the real Bob Ladouceur: This commentary is Carter and Ladouceur discussing the real events that were depicted in the film. He gives a lot of incite translating the story from page to screen.
-Deleted & Extended Scenes: These are some scenes that were cut completely from the movie and one that was shortened.
Deleted scene –
Cam Rips Up Card
Bev Talks to Danny
Landrin Visits T.K.’s Room
Extended scene –
Coach Ladouceur’s Speech to His Team
-Undefeated: The Making of When the Game Stands Tall: This featurette is a behind the scenes and making of the movie. There are interviews with the cast, crew, and the writer Neil Hayes.
-Gridiron Action: This featurette shows how the second unit director Allan Graff shoots football for films. Graf has a way of making the scenes on the field look as realistic as he can.
-The Heart and Soul of a Program: Bob Ladouceur: This featurette looks at coach Ladouceur the man and not just the character.
-Previews: A few trailers for some Sony titles.
Two-disc edition with a Blu-ray & a DVD
UltraViolet Digital Copy
1080p AVC MPEG-4
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Portuguese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
As I said earlier, WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL is all about encouraging people to look outside of yourself and that the world is bigger than just you. It teaches you that with the proper guidance, anyone can be anything that they choose. The Blu-ray release is an even mix of good audio and video with some decent extras. Fans of inspirational films and good sports movies will not regret checking this one out.