"Coach Carter" begins and ends just like every other sports movie in the history of film. There's the requisite losing team"the players with raw talent who just can't seem to get it together. There's the strict but fair coach, who believes in his or her kids and sees that, with a little discipline, they can become the winners they were born to be.
However, "Coach Carter" has a lot that's not in the usual sports script; the film is, at heart, about education and pulling oneself out of poverty, a theme not usually prominent in sports-movie scripts.
Ken Carter (Samuel L. Jackson) takes a job as a basketball coach at one of the poorest high schools in the area. He intends to pull up the team from last year's miserable losing streak and turn the kids around into championship winners. Carter emphasizes the need to teach the boys about respecting each other as well as themselves.
Carter's new job seems easy enough until he discovers the academic laziness and ineptitude put forth by his players. Carter knows that there's so much more to life than winning one season of basketball; the only ticket the boys have to getting out of their desperate financial situations is through education, but he can't stress this point enough to parents, teachers and the team. Nobody listens; nobody cares. So he takes desperate action: He shuts down the team right in the middle of a winning season and refuses to let the boys play until they improve their grades.
Based on a true story, "Coach Carter" is an inspiring sports movie about much more than winning games. It's refreshing to see a sports movie that understands the importance of education over winning; after all, what is winning one high school championship in the long run? Going to college and getting a decent job are much more important, Carter argues.
Jackson gives a masterful performance as Carter, a man who refuses to give up on his team even though it seems like the whole world is against him. Robert Richard, who plays Carter's son, gives a solid performance as a private school kid suddenly immersed in the tough world of Richmond High School. Rob Brown also distinguishes himself as Kenyon, the skilled player whose girlfriend is expecting a baby and whose future is unsure. The rest of the players are witty and smart as the streetwise Oilers, but they're hardly different from the rough team members of other movies.
In the end, "Coach Carter" does fall victim to the fairytale ending curse. However, it is saved by having a touch of reality sprinkled in. Besides, by that point, you'll be hoping for a happy conclusion for Carter and his team.
"Coach Carter" (137 minutes, at area theaters) is rated PG-13 for violence, sexual content, profanity, teen partying and some drug material.
Grace Harter. Grace Harter is currently a CAP senior at Blair. She loves anything British, books, music, movies and of course Silver Chips Online. She'd like to close with a quote from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" that is especially profound (and makes reference to her ultimate favorite … More »