The opening montage informs viewers of how the De La Salle Spartans, a high school football team, has remained undefeated for many years through hard work and discipline. Though the coach has worked hard to get the team where it is, his goal has never been to keep the streak alive. Instead, he wants to make sure that his players grow into men with integrity and character.
After yet another successful undefeated season, the pressure is high for Coach Bob and his team. When Bob has a heart attack, it becomes apparent that the stress has taken a toll on not only him, but also his family, whom he’s neglected.
To make things more difficult, one of Coach Ladouceur’s most promising graduates, a man who has learned to be a good, godly man and who has just received a full-ride scholarship to play division one football, is gunned down tragically on the streets. After this incredibly dramatic event, all of the football team is shaken up, especially Coach Bob. This causes the rest of the team to lose sight of the coach’s main purpose not to win but to grow into God-honoring men. Their 151 winning streak is lost on the first game of the season.
With a tough schedule ahead and a town that’s disappointed in them, the team has to learn to rely on each other and reevaluate why they play the game.
WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL has a strong second half that ends on an inspiring, tear-jerking note. Though the acting is good, much of the story is disjointed, mostly in the first half. At times, it feels as if the characters have too many goals, and it’s hard to discern where the movie is going. This doesn’t take away much from the entertainment value, but the emotional impact of the story could have been much stronger. The football games are riveting and well shot and the characters are genuine.
All through the movie, it’s clear that Coach Ladouceur has been teaching the boys on his team the importance of humility. In one very touching scene, he brings his dejected and downcast team to a wounded veterans hospital to learn about serving others instead of serving yourself. The biblical themes are extremely apparent in WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL. It’s encouraging to see such a positive representation of the Christian faith, especially among young people. Ladouceur and his family had a realistic family dynamic, and the conflict that comes with it. However, the subplot that was supposed to tackle the ever-relevant issue of fatherhood and work/life balance was left underdeveloped and unresolved.
Overall, WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL is a movie that bucks against a culture that’s all about glorifying one’s ego and seeking personal pleasure. Instead of pursuing individual accomplishments and individual fame, the movie promotes an ideal of pursing the exaltation of others. It overtly highlights Matthew 23:12 (“Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, but those who humble themselves will be exalted”) as an example for living. WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL is a moving story for families with older children and teenagers that inspires love and humility.
Principles To Live By:
An Exclusive Interview with Jim Caviezel of WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL
By Evy Baehr, Executive Managing Editor
This month, the new faith based movie called WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL comes to theaters. The movie stars Jim Caviezel as Coach Bob Ladouceur, the coach of a winning team. When Coach Bob suffers a heart attack and the team loses one of its players, he must teach the team the values that can get them back on track.
MOVIEGUIDE® had the opportunity to speak with Jim about the movie and his role.
MOVIEGUIDE®: What did you know about this team or how was this personal?
Jim: When I grew up, every summer I was at basketball camp. My vacations were going to basketball camps. My personal experience was when we were playing, in order to qualify. . . they were the number one team in the state, and it looked like we had no chance. They were bigger, faster, stronger, all this. The next day, we watched movie called HOOSIERS, a movie about a big basketball powerhouse playing a little high school basket team and the basketball team won. That night, we went out and we won that game. My teammates were like brothers to me. I was fearless. … You’re not going to let them down. When I read the script, I felt like this was that story. I take movies on personal stories. That was one of the best experiences of my life, and I thought, here’s the power of film that had such effect on me and maybe I could have the effect of this story, on others. Get it right, that was the other thing.
MOVIEGUIDE®: What is the coach talking to his players about beyond the field?
Jim: Two of the things he is talking about are trust and honesty. There is a segment in the movie where they have commitment cards. They have three goals. One would be a game goal, another would be a practice goal, and another would be a weight lifting goal. . . . Having the courage to say, this is who I am, can I help you? It begins sometimes with a painful evaluation of our strengths and weaknesses. Letting yourself open to be vulnerable, but it is only through this process that the real growth and change can occur. To fool ourselves into believing that we have arrived is just closing the door on life itself. The other parts of those virtues are courage. This does not mean just brave in the face of a tough opponent, but rather having the courage to conquer our own cowardly spirit. The voice inside of us saying, “Well, I can’t, or I’m not good enough.” The biggest reason why we don’t achieve is that we don’t believe that we can.
MOVIEGUIDE®: What other messages does the movie have?
Jim: Brotherhood. It understands that one must lose some of myself in order to find others. Individual egos must die in order for a team to live. Learning how to be a team player. A good team player simple means I know how to sacrifice for a just cause. Respecting the dignity of others. He’s not focusing on winning. When he focuses on their virtues, the byproduct of that is winning, but on a level that most people will never achieve. Why is that? Most people don’t want to give up their ego. Someone told me a long time ago the ego means to etch God out, without God one is not that strong. He sees us.
Mixing It Up with Sly and the Gang:
Behind the Scenes of EXPENDABLES 3
By Tom Snyder, Editor
Several actors have starred in three or more movie franchises, but there’s only one star we can think of who actually created three of the franchises in which he starred, and that’s Sylvester Stallone, the creator of the ROCKY and the RAMBO movie series.
Stallone’s third franchise, THE EXPENDABLES, released its third movie this weekend.
Stallone, 68, sounded like a human Energizer Bunny while talking about his new movie and his career at a recent press conference in Los Angeles.
“Age is a state of old mind,” Stallone said. “It gets to a point where, if you get old enough, you forget how old you are, and that’s the best thing….
“I’m not ready to sit at home and play with my Pomeranians 12 hours a day,” he added. “I’m just not ready. Remember in old vaudeville, there was a cane that snatched you off the stage? Well, I’m waiting for that. Actors don’t want to retire. They’re usually forced to retire, and that’s a sad thing because you really do get better as you get older. You may not remember as much dialogue [but] what dialogue you do remember, you’re better at it. We’re just all children. We’re there to perform, and when that’s taken away. . . I’ve always said the artist dies twice. And, the first death is the hardest, which is the career death, the creative death. . . . So, I just think everybody should just keep going.”
Stallone and some of the other actors starring in EXPENDABLES 3 discussed what it was like working with each other.
“It was a great opportunity to work with some of the best actors that I’ve always admired,” Wesley Snipes said.
Snipes added that it was also great to “act a little crazy again” after being away from movies because of some troubles with the IRS.
Stallone and Mel Gibson, who plays the villain in the new movie, were asked what it was like doing the big fight scene between their characters at the end of the movie.
“Mel is a great actor,” Stallone said. “He’s very fast, very strong, and it was great being punched by him.
“It was fun being shot full of holes by Sly,” Gibson joked.
“There were a lot of characters,” Gibson said about his first impressions on reading the script. “I didn’t know how they were going to jam it all in, but somehow they managed to do it, and everybody got a fair shake, and there’s a lot of people here. So, hats off to Sly for enabling that to happen.”
Harrison Ford co-stars with Stallone, Gibson and Snipes in EXPENDABLES 3.
“Harrison is very intelligent and funny, very funny, very witty and dry humored,” Stallone said. “Harrison is special, very unique. He can bring a lot to a scene with minimal effort.”
“At first, there was a surprise that Kelsey Grammer was going to be on this ride, but I’m tougher than a lot of people think,” Grammer (of TV’s CHEERS and FRASIER) said. “If you know anything about my personal life, you’d realize that. I’ve always wanted to work with Sly. I love working with Sly. It was a revelation to me in terms of just how smart and how improvisational Sly can be as well. And, generous with his time and generous with his acting. I just had the best time ever. . . and I’ve been impressed ever since. I hope [my character] comes back. I’m working out. I’m punching people on the street just to see if I can do it [laughter].”
Stallone remembers how, when he first had some success with ROCKY in 1977, John Wayne just came up to him and said, “Hello, my name is John Wayne, and I want to welcome you to the business.”
“I’ll never forget that,” he said.
Mixed martial arts fighter Ronda Rousey, who plays one of the new Expendables, said, like John Wayne, “Everybody [on the set of EXPENDABLES 3] was just so welcoming and warm. Everyone, really, went out of their way to make me feel comfortable. I couldn’t have asked for a better first project. I’ve always been the one shaking it down with all the guys anyway. I would have felt more uncomfortable if I were in SEX IN THE CITY 4.”
“These guys are all one of a kind,” Stallone said about his cast, both the veterans and the new people. “We’re not coming this way again. You seriously have a real bouillabaisse of talent here, and it’s great to be in the kitchen mixing it up.”
That said, he also joked, “After the fifth EXPENDABLES, you start wearing Dependables.”
Overcoming Misguided Mindless Media Morality
By David Outten and Tom Snyder
News media outlets recently have suspended several reporters and commentators for their allegedly controversial political views.
ESPN suspended two of its stars recently for being offensive. Steven A. Smith was suspended for a remark about women provoking domestic violence and Dan Le Batard was suspended for renting provocative billboards sarcastically “thanking” Lebron James for bringing two NBA championships to Miami.
Reporter Sean Bergin of Channel 12 in New York/New Jersey was suspended for a remark he made about too many black youths having no father in the home.
Following the shooting death of Jersey City police offer Melvin Santiago, Bergin said, “It’s important to shine a light on this anti-cop mentality that has so contaminated America’s inner cities. This same sick, perverse line of thinking is evident from Jersey City to Newark and Patterson to Trenton. It has made the police officer’s job impossible, and it has got to stop. The underlying cause for all of this, of course, young black men growing up without fathers. Unfortunately, no one in the news media has the courage to touch that subject.”
A spokesperson for Channel 12 News told the Hollywood website, THE WRAP, “It is News 12′s policy that reporters must be objective and not state personal opinions on-air. In regards to the particular incident with Sean Bergin, the matter is being addressed internally and we don’t comment on personnel matters.”
Clearly, media executives are prepared to take action against some material considered offensive.
What’s important for audiences to understand is that media morality can be very different from public morality. Even more importantly, the public needs to understand that the media wants to implant its anti-biblical, leftist morality in the public’s consciousness.
Thus, over the years, Americans have become much more accepting of sex outside of marriage, divorce, homosexuality, abortion, secular big government, and same-sex marriage because of media indoctrination.
Of course, what the mainstream media never considers to be offensive are any attacks on Christian faith, Jesus and Christian believers. The idea that Disney/ABC would even consider a program called GOOD CHRISTAIN B_ITCHES, or that Turner Broadcasting would produce a program like BLACK JESUS, shows that offending Christians is of little concern to media executives and their flunkies in the news room and programming offices in Hollywood, New York and Washington, DC. Worse, it shows they willingly and consciously invest in programs that ridicule Christianity, Jesus and people of biblical faith.
Allegedly offensive comments by people like Steven A. Smith are spur-of-the-moment slipups. The production and scheduling of GOOD CHRISTIAN B_ITCHES or BLACK JESUS is not.
It’s highly informative that the remark that got Sean Bergin suspended closed with the line, “Unfortunately, no one in the news media has the courage to touch that subject.” This implies there are people working in the media that fear reprisals if they say something truthful that doesn’t adhere to the unwritten, but well understood, leftist morality of the media.
Take the case of inner city crime, for example. Statistics show that African Americans are far more likely to be murdered by a young black man than they are to be murdered by a policeman. However, whenever an African American is killed by a policeman, it makes national news, giving the impression that the police are conducting some kind of genocidal campaign against the black race throughout the United States.
Of course, crime statistics also show that males are stopped, arrested and killed by police far more than females, but that doesn’t mean America’s men and women in blue are a bunch of feminists sexist “pigs” trying to destroy the male sex.
Because of the leftist media’s almost constant distortion of the news, a distortion which the media uses to increase racial strife between blacks and whites, an inner city suburb in St. Louis, the City of Ferguson, this month saw four or five straight nights of rioting, looting and attacks on the police after the death of a 17-year-old black teenager during an altercation with a policeman.
Like many other recent cases, the rush to judgment among media pundits and even reporters would make your head spin.
Thus, if you work for the media, your paycheck depends on you staying in line with the leftist media’s unwritten moral code. This explains why there are so few moral conservatives in the media. To earn a paycheck, you must either agree with the media’s liberal agenda or pretend that you do. Mention that fatherless families are bad for society and you can get suspended. Do it a second time and don’t even consider being a news reporter.
The Fox News Channel infuriates the rest of the media, and gained a large audience, because they refuse to tow the Christophobic, secular progressive line of the Left. The Drudge Report really angers the media elite by drawing the attention of the American people to stories the mainstream media doesn’t want covered. But, even Fox and Drudge don’t interview the media executives who produce and market programs like GOOD CHRISTAIN B_ITCHES and BLACK JESUS. Neither do they lay bare the direct consequences of the sexual revolution.
America’s mainstream media would have you think America’s problem is underfunded schools and poverty programs, not promiscuity, immorality and left-wing extremism. The American people are smarter than the elites running the media. When surveyed, they chose welfare as the leading cause of poverty. They also ranked the breakdown of the family far above racism, unlike the recent reports on the riots in Ferguson from the likes of the New York Times, USA Today and CNN.
What America, and the world, needs is news media competition. We need reporters who can report without fear on the problem of fatherlessness. We need reporters who won’t be intimidated by Muslim terrorists or by leftist racial demagogues. We need a major media company that greenlights movies and programs that support conservative, biblical values and the historical definition of marriage and that promote faith and family. We need executives who’d be repulsed if someone asked them to fund programs like GOOD CHRISTIAN B_TCHES or BLACK JESUS.
The best way to defeat the Left’s misguided, mindless media morality is by applying Christian, biblical values of Truth, Justice, Beauty, Self-Control, Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness, Purity, Faith, and Love.
These values begin with Jesus Christ. They are all part of His Gospel.
LIFE AFTER BETH follows a teenager named Zach who is emotionally distraught after his girlfriend, Beth, unforeseeably dies after being bitten by a poisonous snake during a hike.
Shortly after Beth’s funeral, Zach’s recently deceased girlfriend mysteriously returns from the dead and shows up at her parents’ home. Her parents try to hide her from the outside world, including Zach.
At first, Zack adamantly believes that his girlfriend’s parents played a sick joke on him by fabricating her death and funeral, but discovers she dug herself from her grave. He believes Beth has the right to know that she’s deceased and be informed of how she died. However, Beth’s father pleads with him not tell her and to make a promise that he won’t tell her. Zach agrees and decides to rekindle his courtship with Beth.
During his attempts at reigniting his relationship with Beth, he gradually discovers she’s different and not the way he remembered her. To his disappointment, there is one problem: Beth is a violent, human-eating zombie. Zach now faces a very tough decision about his future with Beth.
Romanticism is undisputedly the dominant worldview in LIFE AFTER BETH. The concepts of Romanticism are fully reflected in the protagonist, Zach. Zach is fully aware that the logical thing to do is to end his relationship with his zombie girlfriend, Beth. Instead, he irrationally decides to proceed with his romantic relationship because he’s still madly in love with her. Eventually, he finally accepts that the right thing to do is to let her go, despite how difficult it might be.
Just as LIFE AFTER BETH fails at presenting Christian and biblical worldview, it also completely fails artistically. The one poor quality of LIFE AFTER BETH is the storyline and plot, the most important aspect of a movie. Aside from that, the acting and cinematography are good.
The story in LIFE AFTER BETH is undoubtedly horrible and distasteful. The movie’s story doesn’t contain a powerful, deeper meaning, but rather a surface-level one. This fact will cause the viewing audience to become disinterested in and bored with the movie. Moviegoers do not simply watch a movie for entertainment purposes, but they also desire to have a meaningful connection with a movie and be changed by it. This movie definitely fails at its attempts to do that.
The meaningless story in LIFE AFTER BETH will also cause it to become an unmemorable, forgotten movie. At the most basic level, the story has the potential to be a profound, heartfelt story. This could have been achieved if the filmmakers would have incorporated scenes containing biblical, or at least redemptive, elements, instead of several scenes of repulsive sexual immorality. It seemed like the writer and director just wanted to fill the void of time in order to have a feature length movie. They failed to create meaningful scenes that would drive and help communicate the idea of “sometimes when you love someone, you have let them go.” LIFE AFTER BETH is technically considered a comedy, and there are funny scenes in it, but for the most part, it plays more like a drama, so viewers might expect the story to be more meaningful or profound.
Despite its unpleasant storyline, LIFE AFTER BETH has fairly good acting and cinematography. The acting performance by the actors, especially that of Dane DeHaan, who plays Zach, helps the audience connect and relate with the character on a deeper and profound level. Viewers may feel the emotional pain that Zach was feeling because of DeHaan’s fine performance. The adult audience will have compassion for Zach because they most likely have dealt with pain, love, the hardships of relationships, and the loss of a love one.
The cinematography in LIFE AFTER BETH is also fairly good. There are several really well shot scenes that contribute to the overall mood of the movie. For example, at the beginning of the movie, the scene when Beth is hiking on her own and enjoying herself is shot in slow motion and then immediately cuts to the scene of her funeral. The slow motion is done for the audience to understand her happiness. Of course, death is inevitable, and it may occur at an unexpected time, including during moments of happiness.
Overall, LIFE AFTER BETH is an unpleasant, abhorrent movie with a strong Non-Christian Romantic worldview containing a lot of foul language and strong lewd content.
Jonas lives in a dystopian society, when he receives the memories of the past, he learns his community is missing out of some of the greatest elements of living, in THE GIVER. THE GIVER has a Romantic worldview with some politically correct elements, but overall has a positive message that is pro life.
Jonas lives in a dystopian society without color or feeling. When he turns 18, he and his friends are assigned jobs. Jonas is assigned a special position as the receiver of the memories. Not knowing what that means, Jonas is nervous, but he goes to the edge of the community to meet the Giver. The Giver is an older man who has all the memories of history that he must pass down to Jonas. Jonas and the Giver are the only people in the community that will know the history of the world. The community leaders have decided that those memories of pain, death, sorrow, happiness, joy, etc., prevent humanity from organizing a happy society. In order for the community to be rid of all these emotions, each member takes an injection every morning.
As Jonas receives the memories from the Giver, he starts to think that everyone should feel these emotions. Deciding not to take his morning injections, Jonas starts to feel more and fall in love with his childhood friend, Fiona. Fiona works in the nursery with the newborn babies. Each baby is given out to a family unit to be raised by that unit. When the baby isn’t growing properly or has some deformity, it’s killed. Only Jonas realizes the tragedy of the killing of the baby. When his family unit takes in a baby, he starts to feel attached and decides to give some of the memories to the baby. One day Jonas sees his father taking the baby to the center to be killed the next day. This spurs Jonas into action. He decides to save the baby and be on the run from the community elders.
THE GIVER is an interesting movie based on a best selling novel. THE GIVER has a clear storyline with good acting. The memories Jonas receive look like stock photography, but otherwise, the production values are high quality. The movie will definitely interest its audience of older children and teenagers.
THE GIVER has a mixed pagan worldview. Some strong moral elements and light Christian, redemptive elements are mixed with Romanticism and some politically correct elements. The movie stresses that religion is important, but it also stresses all religions. Thus, there’s a Muslim prayer and a Hindu ritual as well as a baptism scene and a couple scenes containing brief references to the Christmas song “Silent Night.” Also, there are some environmentalist elements as the boy sees an elephant being hunted, and this is seen as a tragedy that he believes he can hardly endure. Though this is the case, there are other positive elements promoting family and self-sacrifice. There is a clear pro-life message, including the worth of a baby and the elderly.
Robin Williams and
Hollywood’s Fading Star System
Was Robin Williams a casualty of Hollywood’s fading star system?
Robin Williams had roles in three movies yet to be released. Last year he had a television show. Yet, his was still being financially crushed. He went through two divorces when his paychecks were much larger. He joked about alimony really being “all the money.”
Not many years ago, being an A-list star meant you could command $20 million or more for a movie role. Williams was an A-list star.
It’s been reported he dreaded having to do MRS. DOUBTFIRE II, but that he signed on to the project because he needed the money.
Williams once starred in movies like GOOD MORNING VIETNAM, HOOK, MRS. DOUBTFIRE, and FLUBBER where he was the star above the title. His more recent roles, like Teddy Roosevelt, in the NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM movies, though wonderful, were small.
Williams is not the only Hollywood star to lose financial luster.
Will Smith and Johnny Depp have recently suffered flops where their name above the title didn’t help. Robert Downey, Jr. does spectacularly well, but only when he’s Iron Man or Sherlock Holmes. Jim Carrey, a comic talent similar to Robin Williams, is not drawing at the box office like he used to do. Meanwhile, Mel Gibson has virtually been blacklisted.
Where are the movies like FORREST GUMP where an incredible actor gets an incredible role in something other than a CGI extravaganza?
The A-list stars of the 1990s are still tremendous actors, but you don’t see them in many A-list movies. Today’s A-list movies are about the franchise more than the star. You can substitute one Spider-Man or Batman for another and keep going.
Robin Williams had much more going on in his life than Hollywood’s transformation, but that transformation did seem to have an impact on him.