Parents' Guide to

When the Game Stands Tall

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Football biopic has positive messages but doesn't score.

Movie PG 2014 115 minutes
When the Game Stands Tall Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 5 parent reviews

age 9+

Amazing story. Excellent message. Great for family!

This film tells an amazing story about De La Salle High School's legacy and the coach behind it all. It has plenty of action and emotions. The message is about commitment, honor, faith and love. It is refreshing to see a film like this instead of the usual garbage that Hollywood aspires to shove down teens and adolescent throats.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
age 13+

Teen movie that is actually OK for teens to see

The movie provides positive messages on mature behavior; being fair, being part of a team, and acting responsibly. There is minor violence and there are references to teenage sexuality, but in this case, the characters are being responsible by abstaining from reproductive behavior.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (5):
Kids say (7):

There are occasional touching or powerful moments, like when Coach Lad has a serious stroke or when the most charming player on the team is brutally shot. The acting is fine, too. So then why is this such a boring and predictable movie? Attempts to elevate ideas about faith and adversity are stymied by the weak plot, which -- with the exception of the side story about two former star players -- is really formulaic. The actual football scenes are engaging enough, but the off-the-field drama veers into maudlin territory and has very little humor. If you've exhausted better football flicks, this one will do, but unlike its subjects, this isn't the winningest sports tale.

Even people who don't care about sports usually love sports movies, because there's something viscerally appealing about rooting for an underdog or celebrating the first integrated team or just watching an exceptional athlete beat exceptional odds. But When the Game Stands Tall is a movie about a team that finally loses two games in a row after a 151-game winning streak, which doesn't exactly inspire much investment. There isn't a sports-movie cliche the filmmakers leave unexplored. Soft-spoken but intense coach? Check. Diverse team that includes down-and-out kids hoping for a better life? Check. Long-suffering coach's wife who would love to see more of her husband? Check. Emotionally abusive father who cares about his son's records more than the team? Check? And so on. Of course, without having read the book on which the movie was based, it's not possible to know whether these predictable elements are true to life.

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