Home | Reviews | Exclusive Writings | Great Links | Miscellaneous | FAQ | Contact Us

Coach Carter /

Rated: PG-13

Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Ri'chard, Rick Gonzalez, Ashanti, Adrienne Bailon

Directed by: Thomas Carter

Produced by: David Gale, Brian Robbins, Michael Tollin
Written by:
Mark Schwahn, John Gatins
Distributor: Paramount Pictures





     Sports movies are, in their nature, formulaic. I can usually deal with this, but by the end of Coach Carter, which is, surely enough, “based on true events,” my patience had worn thin and I was about ready to smack myself across the face. It is really a shame that the film’s plot is bogged down by such an abundance of convention. Samuel L. Jackson puts his heart and soul into his role, director Thomas Carter always creates a tone which is both reserved and effective, and cinematographer Sharon Meir beautifully shoots the film. Despite all of this, the conventions of Coach Carter left me no choice but to dislike it. As the characters rattled off the cheesy lines of screenwriters Mark Schwahn and John Gatins’ creation and the “inspirational” music reached its crescendo, I almost wished I had never purchased a ticket for it, in the first place.

     The main effect of Coach Carter’s storyline being so generic is the loss of feeling in its characters. Jackson is passionate enough about the material that his Ken Carter, a high-school basketball coach with dreams of his players excelling both on and off the court, comes across as a very sympathetic protagonist. Unfortunately, his performance is just about the only one in the movie that is affecting, on a human level. All of the young actors who play the members of Coach Carter’s team are somewhat capable in their roles, but the by-the-numbers plot which they must follow and the trite dialogue which they must recite are clearly too much for them to credibly overcome. Only during Jackson’s one-man speeches was I fully enraptured by Coach Carter.

     Director Thomas Carter wishes of his material exactly the same thing Coach Carter asks of his players: to focus on more than just basketball. To some extent, it succeeds. The film serves as an accurate depiction of teenage life in the inner-city. But, in terms of style and emotion, the actual “Big Game” sequences, which there are many of, succeed much more than any of the scenes which take place in everyday environments. The conventional central plot is to blame for this, just as it is for so many other things. How are viewers supposed to take the statement that Coach Carter tries to make seriously when the actual story gives them every reason to be nonchalant towards it? I understand that the events in the movie are, more or less, an accurate depiction of those which happened in real life. This leaves me to ponder why any filmmaker would actually want to commit such a predictable tale to film, for artistic reasons. It’s clear that economics was the main reason why Coach Carter was made.

     Filmically, Coach Carter represents a highly proficient effort. It certainly looks terrific and is well-crafted in almost every aspect. Despite the fact that it has many eye-rolling moments, its rather lengthy 136-minute runtime passes quickly. The movie is entertaining in spurts, if never entirely involving. It contains some sweeping technical elements which allow for some enjoyment. The more one can postpone a certain amount of disbelief regarding the easily foreseeable outcome of the film, the more they will be able to focus on the talent behind Coach Carter’s camera. Then again, those who are able to immerse themselves in formula pictures of this sort are probably the same people who are incapable of admiring accomplished filmmaking.

     For better or for worse, Coach Carter is a typical sports movie. I, personally, was unable to fall for its material, but it may serve as superlative entertainment for those who regularly indulge only in the conventions of Hollywood, when they visit the cinema. It is probably better than the average effort in the realm of mainstream moviemaking. The message that director Carter would’ve liked to send to his audiences is a powerful one, but it has been abused by the abundance of blasé material in Coach Carter and, as a result, the film is not nearly as effective as it could’ve been.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews (Posted in 12.28.2004-2.5.2005 Update)

Back to Home
The Bucket Review's Rating Scale