Directed by Thomas Carter.
Written by Mark Schwahn and John Gatins.
Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Rob Brown, Antwon Tanner and Ashanti.
Release Year: 2005
Review Date: 1/30/05
As a sucker for the great American sports
movie, I will almost always find myself front and center at a sports
film the first weekend because I just love watching sports in any
capacity...especially in one that combines my love for the movies
with my love for basketball, baseball and football.
Along with the great
Night Lights", "Coach Carter" extends a brief run of good high
school sports films by mixing entertaining-yet-realistic sports
action with the stable of off-the-field activities that help stretch
the season...and the drama. In Richmond, California, the
school systems are atrocious...just like Richmond High's basketball
program, which went 4-22 a season ago. The following season,
former high school All-America Ken Carter (Samuel L. Jackson) is
asked to coach the team, a team full of underachievers on and off
the court. Carter, who institutes a new system that requires
the kids to maintain a 2.3 GPA so that they can qualify for college,
gets a lot of backlash from the high school administration and the
parents of the players...but, when the team starts winning, the kids
start buying into Coach's system and bond as a unit in a way that
Using a similar formula to many other recent
sports films, including "Friday Night Lights" and
"Miracle", a small
budget for big stars allows us one A-class lead actor, and Jackson
is fantastic as the stern disciplinarian Carter. Flashing that
signature hard stare and raising his voice at almost every turn,
Jackson looks like he is having fun while working with a serviceable
script that doesn't rely on one-liners. The rest of the cast
are slightly familiar faces (along with big-name R&B star Ashanti)
that fill up the parts of the players on the team; they feel just
right, from Worm (Antwon Tanner), the off-guard with the love for
the ladies, or Kenyon (Rob Brown), the head-in-its-right-place
forward that is dealing with a pregnant girlfriend, or Cruz (Rick
Gonzalez, who did show up in
the Latino hothead that is trying to figure out if a life of drugs
or a life of basketball is the right move. Hell, there's even
the coach's son Damien (Robert Ri'chard; yes, there's an apostrophe
in his last name!), the model citizen that is fundamentally sound
and taking all of the minutes at point guard as a freshman.
I loved the game action; the basketball is
fluid, but as fluid as a good high school team might look. The
speed feels right for a high school game; some awkward shooting
styles and roughshod dribble technique make the games feel very
real. I'll admit that some of the "kids" on the opposing teams
looked more likely to be teachers at those schools; during the
Bayside game, I thought two of the guys looked like they were in
their late 20s. But otherwise, the basketball was solid.
Also solid were the token high school parties...loved that in one of
them, Mom and Dad actually did come home while the party was going
on, busting all of the kids and their daughter along the way.
(Favorite line in the movie: the token college-ready center
(Nana Gbewonyo), talking to women at this party: "Like I was
saying before, girls, I'm Junior Battle...I'm the man, baby!!")
The hip-hop was a good mix of stuff, kid dancing looked good, and the
machismo that 17-year-olds exhibit to the girls at a party like
this was spot-on. Not saying that I even went to any parties as a
17-year-old, but it all felt genuine.
I don't know, I'm thinking now of anything I
really didn't like about "Coach Carter", and nothing of note comes
to mind. A very solid experience based on the real-life
situation of Ken Carter during his coaching tenure in California, I
even learned something during this movie, too. Man, I wish
more sports movies were this good...
Rating: Opening Weekend
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard