My daughter came over to visit this weekend, and she suggested that we rent this film. Since it stars Samuel L. Jackson and is about a high school basketball coach, I thought that it sounded promising. Well, it turned to be more than just promising. It is a movie that held me riveted to the screen the entire time it was on. Samuel L. Jackson is simply outstanding in the role of a high school coach who sees basketball as the means to an end and not the end itself.
Based upon a true story that took place in Richmond, California, it centers on a man named Ken Carter. He was asked by the retiring basketball coach of Richmond High School to return as a part-time basketball coach to the school from which Ken had graduated and left his mark many years earlier. The school is one of those schools in which people barely graduate and, of those that do, most do not go on to college. The basketball team was no great shakes either, having won only four games in the entire previous year.
Finally, Carter is prevailed upon to take over as coach. He has, however, decided that he wants to make a difference. He starts off by letting the team know who is boss and by trying to instill discipline and respect. He wants to go back to fundamentals. He wants to put the emphasis on being a student athlete. To this end, he makes it clear just what his expectations are. He drafts a contract that those who wish to remain on the team, as well as their parent, must sign. Some of the conditions are that the players must attend class, do their schoolwork, and pass their classes. Those who signed the contract ended up making the best move of their lives.
Coach Carter keeps his side of the bargain, turning the team into a formidable one on the court. Suddenly, basketball at Richmond High School begins commanding attention. Notwithstanding this, he still emphasizes that they are to be just as committed to their studies. While one might expect some resistance from the student athletes to such a change, one would expect support from the educators themselves. What is amazing is the resistance that he experiences from the teaching community who are reluctant to give him progress reports on how his players were doing academically.
When Coach Carter finally gets his long awaited progress reports and discovers that some of his student athletes are not holding up their end of the contract, all hell breaks loose. Even though they have had an undefeated season so far, he basically locks the gym and tells his players that there will be no more basketball, until he sees some academic improvement. To his surprise, the school board, as well as the parents, does not support him in this matter, and the situation becomes a media sensation on the West Coast. Support comes from an unexpected source, the student athletes themselves.
This is a heartwarming story about a coach who cared and dared to make a difference in the lives of kids that had little or no future. What he did for those students was incomparable, as he basically gave them a chance for a better life. Samuel L. Jackson is sensational as Coach Carter, dynamic and totally believable in the role. The young men who play his student athletes likewise give excellent performances. Ashanti also gives a surprisingly well nuanced performance as the girlfriend of one of the student athletes. Moreover, for those who enjoy great basketball, the on court scenes are extremely well done.
At the end of the film, there is a summary of what happened to these young men. When the viewer sees what happened to them, the viewer cannot help be but touched by the turn of events. Moreover, the DVD has a featurette on the real Coach Carter and the real student athletes for whom the appointment of Ken Carter was literally a life saving measure. This is a very well acted, deftly directed, inspirational film and one that is worthy of being in one's personal collection."
Uplifting -- makes you want to hit the court
David Schappell | Seattle, WA United States | 12/13/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I saw an advance screening of this film, and really enjoyed it -- Samuel L. Jackson was very compelling in this "White Shadow"-like role. Uplifting story about a man who takes over as high school basketball coach for an inner city school. He turns the team around from a team that can't win, to one that goes virtually undefeated, and along the way instills discipline and an emphasis on studying that impacts the players lives in a much deeper way. The ending was a little surprising, but given that it was a true story, sometime hollywood endings need to take a backseat. I'd highly recommend this movie to high school students and for those who enjoy sports and stories about beating the odds."
Is 6 stars an option?
Anthony Rupert | Milwaukee, WI | 01/30/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As far as how many stars this movie gets, I agree with reviewer William Weaver. Coach Carter features Samuel L. Jackson following the real-life story of Ken Carter, who took on the job of head basketball coach at Richmond High School (in California, not Virginia). He soon discovers that the kids on the team are pretty ghetto, to say the least, but that doesn't stop him from trying to whip the kids into shape by issuing basketball contracts that he expects them to live up to if they want to play on the team. I won't go into the details of the contract because most of the other reviewers already did that, but what I WILL say is that some people won't believe the consequences that occur after all the students don't live up to the guidelines of the contract.
The movie's subplot is pretty interesting, too: one of the boys on the team, Kenyon Stone (played by Rob Brown, which I believe is his first big role since the overlooked Finding Forrester), is rationally trying to figure out how he's going to play basketball and go to college when he has a baby coming with his girlfriend Kyra (played by Ashanti, who actually does a good job in her role; as does former 3LW lead singer Adrienne Bailon, who still looks SEXXXY...*clears throat*). Anyway, this storyline may look played-out on paper, but it's a lot more interesting than it sounds, especially what happens at the end.
It was also interesting to see Ken Carter's son Damien (Robert Ri'chard) transfer to Richmond High and join the basketball team as a freshman, and his having to serve the same consequences that every other team member had to. I was kind of hoping that there would be some scenes depicting the Carters at home and Damien complaining about how harsh the daily practice exercises were. Oh well, Coach Carter is still a truly extraordinary movie. You have to be trippin' NOT to see it.
Good movie, Great story.
M. Newton | Dallas, TX USA | 07/12/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Coach Carter tells a great story and provokes a lot of thought about why some cultures consistently fail. The film itself was good, but given the subject matter, it could have been a 5 star film.
Samuel Jackson is very convincing in his role, and the young men who act as his players are well cast. This film had a lot in common with Hoosiers, which is the best basketball film ever made. Like Hoosiers, you have an inspiring story with twists and turns. How you feel about the movie beyond that depends on what your personal preferences are. If you like basketball (unlike the Amazon.com official review shown above), you will enjoy the well-choreographed basketball sequences. If you are in to rap music, you may like the soundtrack. My problem with the film is that I'm not a big rap music fan. Also, I don't feel the need to hear profane ghetto talk thoughout some of the movie. The movie seemed to be aimed at young rapsters, which is fine. Since I'm not a young rapster, I didn't enjoy some aspects of the movie. Nonetheless, this was a good movie over all.
This was not a movie for those under 13, as the rating indicates. The language is poor, there are some sexual scenes, and the abortion issue (a distraction to the film) is present.
The movie does bring up the question of why some cultures fail. I liked the fact that this film made it a cultural issue instead of a race issue by having various races on the team and at the school. We see that some cultures simply don't understand that academics are required to get ahead in the modern world. This total lack of an educational emphasis keeps some groups behind, even if there is no racism. The ray of hope is Coach Carter. He refuses to believe that his kids can't do it. He chooses to believe that the kids can do it and that he, one man, can make a major difference. This segment of the story is so inspiring that I wish this film could be shown to all ages. However, maybe the message will reach young men and women who can still make a difference in their own lives. History has shown that individuals from poor cultures can make choices that lead them to become successful, regardless of the obstacles.
The DVD has a story on the real Coach Carter that is worth a look."
You owe me 2500 pushups and 1000 Suicides!
Jimmy Cornejo | Merritt Island, FL | 01/20/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"These are the movies where you know you will get the real deal. No Hollywood ending and no false impressions. Real life story of a Man... a Coach... a SIR! that takes it upon himself to help turnaround a team of young kids and turns then into MEN. A must see FAMILY movie to help people realize a lil something extra about sports these days. Show it to your kids.. your team.. your students. You will come out wanting to improve your own life. Basketball changes lives... may not be so obvious.. but after watching this movie you will see why. COACH CARTER!"