When The Game Stands Tall Is An Enjoyable Movie, Despite Its Manipulativeness
Have you ever watched something, be it a movie or TV show, and knew you were being manipulated? And I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way. All media—including news, much to my dismay—is designed to elicit a reaction from the persons viewing it.
Though what separates great filmmakers from the merely good is that those that we admire the most are fluent in the language of controlling reactions.
Which means that, as a viewer you just roll with it, as opposed to feeling hoodwinked and cheated somehow.
For instance, if you’ve seem Guardians of the Galaxy, there’s a scene involving Groot at the end of the movie that’s very cute, and designed to evoke certain feelings.
And it works, because you’re so into the movie that you barely notice that you’re being played.
In other words, Thomas Carter is a good director, but not a great one because When The Game Stands Tall, taken as a whole is for a lot of its running time blatantly obvious in its intentions.
Which isn’t to imply that the movie isn’t sometimes thrilling, inspirational, or even sublime, but only that it tries too hard, when it would have been better off chronicling what happened in a less partial fashion, and let viewers come to their own conclusions about everyone involved.
Another thing worth mentioning is that there are no villains in the movie. The only character that comes close is Mickey Ryan (Clancy Brown), who’s great, by the way. That being said, he’s more of a douche than evil. He also stands in stark contrast to Coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caveziel) who despite neglecting his family for his football team comes off as ready for canonization.
And since When The Game Stands Tall is a drama, and there’re no bad guys, something has to drive the action and create tension, and that something is football because few things are as thrilling, as dramatic as watching people getting pummeled or catching the seemingly impossible pass.
An important thematic element of the movie revolves around the idea the of building character in the players, though as it’s used in the movie doesn’t pass the logic test. For instance, if the game was all that mattered, then what was the point of winning so damned many of them? The De La Salle Spartans had a winning streak that lasted 151 games! You mean to tell me that winning didn’t matter to Ladouceur at all?
You don’t win that many games by having winning not matter. No way, no how.
The filmmakers also have quite an eye for detail because Ladouceur actually resembles Caviezel, which indicates that they were at least trying to approximate a reality, as opposed to some of the choices made in Argo, such as casting Ben Affleck as Tony Mendez, whom share little in the way of physical resemblance.
When all is said and done, When The Game Stands Tall is enjoyable, and even at times an inspirational one, though being based upon real people, it would have been better if the filmmakers had taken a hint from reality.