There have been a lot of really good sports movies done..especially about our good ol’ American past time, football and it happens to be a sport I do watch on occasion as it can be fun. Some of those movies have been very memorable like “Brian’s Song” “Remember the Titans” even “Rudy” was a touching tug of the heart one. This movie is not going to be remembered as one of those. It’s vapid, religious based storyline is based on the De La Salle High School Spartans football team that had a pretty yes, incredible 151 game winning streak going on from 1992-2004 and then lost it. Unfortunately, the story of how is bland, formulaic and follows every sports cliche ever done, but without any heart or soul in it whatsoever..which considering the religious aspect of the movie, was really odd.
The events that define this movie and lead the narrative of it are the murder of their star linebacker “Terrance Kelly aka T.K.” (Stephan James), Head Coach “Bob Ladouceur” (Jim Caviezel) heart attack, and the ultimate loss of this streak but with the always true to form comeback game against the best team in the country, Long Beach Poly. Now call me cynical, but watching a bunch of kids cry about a loss..even if it’s a big one to them when say a movie like “We Are Marshall” shows the utter loss of almost a WHOLE TEAM was lost in a plane crash makes this feel quite petty indeed. This movie never showed us about how this streak was even started or anything that lead up to the all the events.. they just sort of happened in whatever chronological order they threw them at us. Caviezel seems to be walking through this role like a robot, has zero chemistry with his cast, not even his wife, “Bev Ladouceur” (Laura Dern) who just wants him to be a more hands on father, or his son “Danny Ladouceur” (Matthew Daddario) who only wants his dad to be able to coach him during his final senior year because well, he’s never really been at home enough to be a dad…just a coach.
The supporting cast of football players is simple and the norm for a sports movie. “Chris Ryan” (Alexander Ludwig) as the best player on the team who is trying to break the long lasting record of touchdown held whose dad is “Mickey Ryan” (Clancy Brown) one of those horrible ‘sports parents’ who you just want to punch because they are so awful, “Tayshon” (Jessie Usher) as the other superstar of the team, but the bad boy – rulebreaker type, “Beaser” (Joe Massingil) the heavy-set tackle who’s got the hot girlfriend because he’s on the football team tho because of the religious aspect of the movies, they’ve taken a purity vow, “Arturo” (Matthew Frias) as the smallest kid on the team. 3rd string but plays one play and saves the day..yeah..I know..seen it all before.“Rick” (Richard Kohnke) and lastly the only character that really stood out for me, “Terry Eidson” (Michael Chiklis) as not only did he spark a little tiny bit of humour, but was almost unrecognizable from his various roles and just showed some range with his character in an otherwise dull sports story.
I’m sure we can all figure out the plot of this movie..they lose..and come back to win again. My biggest beefs were not only the plodding plot but the product placement was truly ridiculous. When Caviezel’s character says to his son, “Would like like some of my Muscle Milk shake” with the container right there in full view, or when one of the scouting University’s, Oregon State give one of the players a pair of Nike’s with the phrase..”Here have our newest pair of Nike shoes” and those are just 2 examples. I realize product placement is part of movies..but the way they handled it in these movies was just plain silly. Also, I don’t mind religion, I’m definitely a supporter of ‘to each his own’ but when they blatantly show how much prayer they do before the games and how god will make them win and when he doesn’t, well they must pray harder. That’s just so wrong to me. And don’t get me wrong, we all see plenty of religious notes from players in sports, it’s a given, i’m not putting it down in the slightest, but in a world where people are getting killed everyday and trust me, not over football, I am truly hoping that whichever god you support, he or she has better things to worry about or do than make sure you win your football game. Sorry to all those that think otherwise, but that is my sincere thought on the matter. It’s not meant to provoke anyone, just be honest with the situation at hand.
All in all this just isn’t a memorable, inspiring or well done sports movie and that sadly is what will make it completely un-memorable.
Grading Scale: A = Oscar- worthy; B = Above average – must see; C = Average – should see; D = Don’t waste your time or money; F – Don’t see. (+ or – tilts the scale up or down)