The first sign of trouble for the new film "When the Game Stands Tall" is the bland title itself, which signals a vibe Newsday's Rafer Guzman captured in his review: "Worthwhile messages" delivered in a "stern, humorless tone."

The football scenes are well executed, the stars are earnest and if I had a 9-year-old sports fan in the family I might well take him or her to see it.

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But the rest of us are less well served by the film, which covers the 2004 season at De La Salle High, the California powerhouse that produced Amani Toomer, Maurice Jones-Drew and others -- albeit in reality-altering "inspired by a true story" style.

Rent "Remember the Titans" instead.