Football season is my favorite season of the year. If you call my cellphone, you’ll hear the Louisiana State University Fight Song as you wait for me to answer it. I have friends, faithful to other college football teams, who accuse me of lingering before answering just so the caller has to hear the tunes of my alma mater. So when I was invited to attend a preview of the upcoming Affirm Films movie, When the Game Stands Tall, to use the words of a football coach of fellow SEC team Auburn, I was “all in.”
The movie is based on the true story of Coach Bob Ladouceur who led the football team of De La Salle High School located in northern California to the most wins in history. I was thrilled to see Jim Caviezel (Passion of the Christ and TV’s Person of Interest) plays the coach, Laura Dern plays his wife, and Michael Chiklis plays his coaching partner of more than 30 years.
Although the movie is not a ‘faith-based’ movie, it is about how the faith of these young men and the ones who lead them are challenged and held accountable to give their perfect effort. Their perfect effort in practice, on the field, and especially in life. AND how they are better together.
The movie is written well to include the remarkable moments in the lives of the players and their families. They walk onto the field to play, holding hands, two by two to show their love for one another…and wig out the opposing team. The players are given opportunities to share what’s going on in their lives and how they pledge to support the team in all they are with great transparency the evening before the games. They share the challenges and goals each player has set for himself, written on an index card, and hands the index card to another player, to be read aloud, and for accountability. These scenes offer great examples of healthy small group.
Although all the game scenes rock this southern gal’s world with fantastic photography and sound, my favorite part of the film is when the coach takes the team to spend the day at the local VA hospital. When a football player paces a veteran running on a treadmill with prosthetic legs, the energy in the theater is palpable. I could hear the audience around me shifting in their seats to lean forward. When a football player gives a wounded warrior a bath and the most egotistical of the players has a run-in with a urine bag, the laughter is big and real.
With my limited vocabulary, I think the movie was great. I really enjoyed it. I’ll be talking about it when it comes to theaters on August 22nd. I’ll be telling Mamas and Dads to take their kids. I’ll be throwing some footballs in our CLUB345 to share that it’s a great movie to see. And I’ll be hanging up some posters on a few bulletin boards throughout the church to promote this really good family movie. It’s clean, courageous, inspiring, and a great film for teams, youth groups, teachers, coaches, parents, tweeners, everyone. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll feel proud and there’s never a dull moment.
If you really pay attention to the coaching team along the sidelines, you’ll see cameo appearances of the ‘real’ Coach Lad. There were even a couple of cameos of LSU’s head coach, Les Miles, in the opening game scenes. I was downright giddy!
“Winning is just a way of keeping score for the days when opportunity and perfect effort meet. …..Winning a lot of football games is doable. Teaching kids there’s more to life? That’s hard.“- Coach Bob Lad, from the movie When the Game Stands Tall.