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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Movie review of "When The Game Stands Tall" by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z’s Blog by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf





I saw an advance screening of a movie with Jim Caviezel, When The Game Stands Tall.  The name is a bit odd, but it explains itself along the way.  This is a new contribution to a well-established genre, the high school football movie.

It is based on a true story of Catholic De LaSalle High School, which had a football team winning streak of 151 games.  The coach’s desire was to bring out of all the boys a perfect effort, not necessarily a win, and, thereby, help them become men.  

The movie is, in an over-arching way, formulaic – as true stories often are, you know.  Man remains the same, fallen and risen.  So, the winning team has a crisis they have to overcome and they find themselves along the way.  The coach has a crisis, and he has to figure out being both a coach and a husband and father.  There is a moment of truth (involving – yes – a football game).  Sound familiar?  It ought to.  But this movie does it well.  

                This new movie is not overtly Catholic.  Though it is at a Catholic High school, there is no cleric involved.  The only church scene is in a Baptist church.  Scripture verses figure a couple times, and prominently and appropriately.  You see the players at prayer twice (I think) and, that, the Lord’s Prayer.   So, this is not in-your-face Catholicism.  But, the world-view in the movie seemed Catholic to me.  The concept of the team promoted by their coach seemed to be founded on sacrificial love: seek that which is good for the other, not just for oneself.  Make a perfect effort.

I hope that, as the release date of the film comes closer, you will, in your parishes and groups, promote the film and even organize trips to the theatre as groups to see it early in its release.

Once upon a time, there was a strong positive Catholic strain in the film industry.  That went away.  It must be reclaimed.  That is why you, in a fundamental way, must choose to support Catholic films.  Make some plans.