Coach Carter

"Good"

Coach Carter Review


Even those unfamiliar with real-life high school basketball coach Ken Carter might find familiar elements in the inspirational drama based on his achievements. After all, how many different ways can you tell the story of a coach who inherits a team torn apart and transforms them from chaotic underachievers to state title contenders?

Except in this case, the events actually happened. Coach Carter (Samuel L. Jackson) benched his undefeated Richmond Oilers in 1999 because the team failed to meet academic requirements he established at the start of the season. Amid protests from both school faculty and area parents, Carter locked his players out of the gymnasium and drove them into the library until their grades were up to snuff.

In the age of off-the-court brawls and criminal accusations aimed at NBA superstars, it's refreshing to find a role model from the basketball realm who defines the student-athlete by emphasizing the first word instead of the second. Hollywood's efforts to relay Carter's story are noble but contrived, bowing to meet clichéd storytelling requirements that ultimately prevent Coach Carter from joining Hoosiers and Teen Wolf in the upper echelons of basketball pictures.

The film, from director Thomas Carter (no relation), utilizes an alternating formula of motivational speeches and current hip-hop tracks meant to sell Coach Carter soundtracks. Screenwriters Mark Schwahn and John Gatins intertwine street slang ("He clowned you, dog") with bite-sized nuggets of inspirational wisdom ("Winning in here is the key to winning out there").

Carter picks apart key issues, from the overabundance of on-court trash talk to teenagers' casual use of the "N" word. These players meet tougher opposition outside the gym, where drug pushers, short-sighted faculty members, and pregnant girlfriends present genuine obstacles to their promising futures.

Employing the same tough love methods that got Texas Tech basketball coach Bob Knight in trouble years ago, Coach Carter walks a thin line that adds necessary dramatic weight. Carter knows he has to push these young men toward self-improvement, but push them too hard and their futures potentially suffer. One valuable scene shows a mother begging the coach to play her benched son so he can impress college scouts and possibly earn a scholarship. She acknowledges her son's faults and commends the coach for instilling respect in her boy. But the reality of the situation is that now is not a convenient time to teach this lesson, and Carter makes that point clear.

When Carter works, it's because of Jackson. Steadfast, stubborn, and wise, Jackson blends intimidation with a hint of malicious encouragement that adequately back up the coach's repeated threats to get his team in line. Few deliver hard doses of reality better than Sam when he's dialed into a character's intensity.

For every relevant point, the film makes an equally artificial decision to satisfy the screenwriting hack in all of us. An unwanted pregnancy plaguing one player's girlfriend conveniently goes away. The Oilers enter an unlikely rematch with a private-school squad that humiliated them at the movie's start.

At the heart of Carter lies this imbalanced school system that routinely puts athletics before education. Teachers express anger because Carter's actions call attention to their ineptitude, making them look lazy and stupid. Parents are angered that their athletically gifted children can not perform in front of college scouts, but care little about the parade of poor grades. Unfortunately, Carter points out the deficiencies but stops short of offering real solutions (though not due to lack of time; the movie runs long at 134 minutes).

In hoop terms, Coach Carter would win the NIT, but it fails to receive an invitation to compete in March Madness.

The DVD includes deleted scenes, featurettes on the real Carter (of course), and a music video.

Shirt's crooked.



Coach Carter

Facts and Figures

Run time: 136 mins

In Theaters: Friday 14th January 2005

Box Office USA: $67.2M

Box Office Worldwide: $76.7M

Budget: $30M

Distributed by: Paramount Pictures

Production compaines: MTV Films, Tollin/Robbins Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 65%
Fresh: 94 Rotten: 51

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: Samuel L. Jackson as Ken Carter, as Kenyon Stone, Robert Ri'chard as Damien Carter, as Timo Cruz, as Jason Lyle, Texas Battle as Maddux, Lacey Beeman as Susan, as Mrs. Battle

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Advertisement
Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.