When the Game Stands Tall

Playing both sides against the middle, this fact-based drama about high school football coach Bob Ladouceur and his De La Salle Spartans makes a commendable effort to invest the inspirational sports movie with some deeper meaning but simultaneously labors to keep all the genre cliches firmly in place. Ladouceur led the Concord, California, team through a record 151-game winning streak from 1992 through 2004; the movie chronicles the string of defeats that followed before the Spartans roar back with their hard-fought 2001 victory against Long Beach Polytechnic. (Yeah, I know that’s achronological, but I told you it’s fact-based.) Along the way the jocks learn that teamwork is more important than individual glory and sports is about building character, not muscles. Of course, what really builds character is losing, something the Spartans seldom did. Thomas Carter directed; with Jim Caviezel, Michael Chiklis, and Laura Dern.