Kernel Rating (out of 5):
MPAA Rating: PG Length: 115 minutes
Age Appropriate For: 12+. The film is rated PG, but its scenes of high-school football are somewhat violent for that rating, especially presented as they are in slow motion with extra bone-crunching sound effects. There is also a character who is shot and killed; another who has a heart attack; a visit to a Veterans Affairs hospital in which soldiers are shown who lost their limbs in battle; a few kisses between high-school couples; and a brief conversation about virginity and premarital sex. This is a Christian film, so there are also lots of discussions about the Bible; the messaging will not necessarily work for non-Christian audiences.
‘When the Game Stands Tall’ is a movie fighting itself. It’s about Christian faith and values, but it doesn’t present them consistently—the film is full of frustrating contradictions that undercut whatever themes it’s attempting to present.
By Roxana Hadadi
“When the Game Stands Tall” is ostensibly a movie about high-school football, but in execution, it’s more about Christian buzzwords. Humility, responsibility, faith, love—these are words that get thrown around often, but only superficially explored. This is a movie fighting itself: It’s supposedly about a high-school football coach teaching his boys to be men, but there’s so little time focused on that growth that the final “sacrifice” by the team makes zero sense. “When the Game Stands Tall” claims to be about more than football, but it talks a big game. It doesn’t deliver.