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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 20.31%
Average: 14.06%
Pretty Bad: 21.88%
Total Crap: 3.13%

4 reviews, 40 user ratings

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Coach Carter
[] Buy posters from this movie
by EricDSnider

"A movie about a coach who inspires his team. Yep, another one."
3 stars

For as trend-setting as MTV is supposed to be, its filmmaking division sure exhibits a remarkable devotion to clichés. "Coach Carter," an urban hip-hop sports drama, is a mealy conglomeration of high-school-sports movies, teacher-who-motivates-students movies, and inner-city-kids-have-a-tough-life movies. It's sort of "Dead Poet's Society" meets "Hoosiers" meets "Lean on Me," with every possible cliché ticked off as if the filmmakers had a checklist.

It was directed by Thomas Carter, who also helmed MTV's "Save the Last Dance" in 2001. Both movies are marked by a serious, even sincere attitude, but hampered by mediocre storytelling. I just named three movies that, while not exactly original, still managed to be very good. You can use old materials to make something interesting; MTV just chooses not to.

"Coach Carter" is based on a true story that happened in 1999, though the film is set in the much hipper 2004. (1999 is so five years ago.) Samuel L. Jackson, in a PG-13 version of his badass self, plays Ken Carter, newly hired to coach the undisciplined, disorganized basketball team at Richmond High School, a poor school in a poor Northern California neighborhood. Carter owns a sporting-goods store as his day job and is paid only a $1,500 stipend to coach the team for the entire season. But he went to Richmond High himself, back in the day, and some of his basketball records still stand. He loves the game, and he wants to give something back to his alma mater.

The team is a mess. They won four games last season, lost the other 20, and more than one game ended in a fight -- if not with the other team on the court, then back in the locker room, amongst themselves. One player, Kenyon (Rob Brown), has just gotten his girlfriend (played by a person called "Ashanti") pregnant. Another player, a fiery Latino named Timo Cruz (Rick Gonzalez), is tangled up in drugs with his gang-banger cousin. In general, the team is bitter and hopeless.

Coach Carter shakes things up immediately. He addresses the players as "sir" and insists they return the courtesy. He has them sign contracts promising to be on time for practice, to maintain good grades, and to wear neckties on game days. He promptly, bodily ejects Cruz from the gymnasium for insubordination. When Cruz protests, "Teachers ain't supposed to touch students!," Carter replies, "I'm not a teacher. I'm the new basketball coach." Jackson delivers the line as if he were saying, "I'm your worst nightmare." Jackson is cool even when he has to tone it down, and even when the script gives him corny things to say.

Under Carter's direction, the team has an unprecedented winning streak, the Cinderella story of the year. Alas, the players become cocky and let their grades slip -- a direct violation of the contract. Carter puts a lock on the gym doors, makes the players join him in the library to study, and cancels an upcoming game. The school, the town and the parents are in an uproar.

The film was predestined to be generic: The writers, Mark Schwahn and John Gatins, are responsible for writing "The Perfect Score," "Hardball" and "Summer Catch," three movies that exemplify by-the-numbers filmmaking. With the director's "Save the Last Dance" on his résumé, "Coach Carter" is probably even better than it should have been. It has moments of honesty, bursts of good acting, scenes of exciting sports drama. But then it always retreats to safety, to trite platitudes and obvious epiphanies. By the time it's over (about 20 minutes after it should have been), when Coach Carter is delivering his standard "I'm proud of you, I came here to coach boys and wound up coaching men" speech, you'll be watching the clock, waiting for it to finally run out.

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originally posted: 01/14/05 16:07:15
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

7/14/17 Mel Gibson poor movie, sorry I watched most of it 1 stars
7/07/11 Liam Walker Agree with @Talie Fuimaono brilliant acting by Samuel L 5 stars
4/26/10 Jeff Wilder Not much new in terms of story. But Jackson's performance is very good. 3 stars
2/11/09 ceddy How can you not like it,,, it was the best movie ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
3/19/07 sj133 sucked to the core 1 stars
10/30/06 Talie Fuimaono Love it it awwwsome!!!! very inspirational and awsome actin by Samuel L Jackson!!! WICKED 5 stars
8/15/06 Sharon such a good movie inspirational and made me cry and laugh and wanna play basketball 5 stars
5/04/06 samya i love this moie alot it teach me a lesson 5 stars
4/05/06 Allan Johnson The team lost the last game.Nice piece of realism 5 stars
4/02/06 JRE really really really really really really good 5 stars
12/14/05 DANNiiRUSS0-- ALL0W ME T0 RE' iiNTR0DUCE MYSELF iiT WAS THE SHiiT !! 5 stars
12/06/05 Jimena Pena very inspirational! 5 stars
10/22/05 janine the cute movie i ever seen 5 stars
10/14/05 eddiejohns Very inspirational. All teachers should follow suit 5 stars
9/26/05 Tiffany Rick Gonzalez is so Cute!!! 5 stars
9/20/05 Veronica i love this movie, the best yet. u can try to top it but you cant 5 stars
9/11/05 Jazz It was a breath taken film, if you are looking for an insperational film, this is it!! 5 stars
9/05/05 Holly one of the best movies i have ever seen-very inspiration 5 stars
8/19/05 Jordan This was an awesome movie. It really hits you hard and it hits close to home for many. 5 stars
8/17/05 kelsie the best movie in the hole entire world 5 stars
8/16/05 B It is a fantastic movie 5 stars
8/15/05 Marty Battafarano Very good message 5 stars
8/01/05 Beth Kerrick My kids, ages 15 and 12, and I enjoyed this movie. Go Coach Carter for making the grade! 4 stars
7/27/05 Tasha I absolutely LOVED it 5 stars
7/25/05 Suke How many times can you draw from the same well? 2 stars
7/25/05 Eric Rollins Stand By Me wannabe borefest 2 stars
7/18/05 olie mcclary Iloved the movie could not take my eyes off the screen 5 stars
7/13/05 Brittany awesome 5 stars
6/25/05 Dan good movie. 4 stars
6/17/05 Julia Good storey, and surprising 5 stars
2/20/05 lj inspiring 4 stars
2/03/05 jjj ashanti didherthing 5 stars
2/02/05 lisa w I knew nothing about the movie going in, and it was GREAT!! Highly Recommend 5 stars
2/02/05 Brigette My opinion on this movie is that it is alright.It was worth watching but it could bebetter 4 stars
2/01/05 r durham I really enjoyed this movie.It kept my attention all the way through. 4 stars
2/01/05 Lil J I love this movie my favorite part was when Cruz gave his speech i LOVED it and the movie 2 5 stars
1/29/05 malcolm the first hour was pretty damned ordinary as far as sports films go, but it got better. 4 stars
1/23/05 Steve Michaud Cliched and derivative, but it's well-intentioned and its message is sincere 3 stars
1/18/05 PG #32 Good movie, Jackson is amazing, a little bit too dramatic for my taste, worth my time 4 stars
1/15/05 mott the drupal is this story about the directors life? 3 stars
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  14-Jan-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 21-Jun-2005



Directed by
  Thomas Carter

Written by
  Mark Schwahn
  John Gatins

  Samuel L. Jackson
  Robert Ri'chard
  Rob Brown
  Debbi Morgan
  Rick Gonzalez

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