Rated: PG-13 Reviewed by: Chris Release date: January 14, 2005 Released by: Paramount Pictures Corporation
Samuel L. Jackson stars as real life Richmond, Texas High School coach, Ken Carter. He’s the owner of a small successful store and as a past Richmond basketball star, the school asks him to take over for their retiring coach.
Carter’s a tough taskmaster, he has the team members sign contracts whereby they agree to keep a “C” or better average for all of their classes, attend all practices and wear a sport-coat and tie to school on game day. Carter believes that their minds are as important as their athletic skills, and he won’t make exceptions.
The penalty for breaking Mr. Carter’s rules is stiff. A small infraction means hundreds of push-ups; couple slips of the lip, and you’re off the team. His tough love might be hard to deal with, but as he explains to the teens, the future of most young black men in their neighborhood is dismal. They either wind up in jail or dead, so being a good athlete isn’t enough, they also meed a solid education to go with it.
The story is predictable, in that a once losing team begins to win under Mr. Carter’s direction. His strict ways also shake up the faculty and parents. He expects weekly progress reports from the teachers, so they balk about the extra work and the parents resent someone standing in the way of, their kids’ succeeding in a possibly lucrative future.
Things come to a head when Carter closes the gym because some of the team members are failing their courses. It’s just about the time that the team might make it to the play-offs, so it’s big news in the community and with the school board.
Jackson makes a perfect Coach Carter. He’ tall and lean, looks like an ex-player and his voice and demeanor command respect. Carter cares about the kids and wants more for them than they even dare to expect.
Coach Carter has some pretty good pre-game speeches, and some exciting on-court action, but it’s the results of what the Coach is able to inspire in each student that matters. As the closing credits point out, his seniors were accepted at college, now that’s a winning season.