Written by Mark Schwahn and John Gatins
Directed by Thomas Carter
Running Time: 2:17
for violence, sexual content, language,
teen partying and some drug material.
Coach Carter was an entertaining film that kept the crowd excited, but the story was something that has been seen and done many times over.
The Richmond High School Oilers basketball team suffered through a four win season and their coach can't deal with the players any more. He wants to retire, and in steps Coach Carter, a former two-time All-American from Richmond. He decides to make the players remember that in the term 'student-athlete', the word 'student' comes first. He makes them sign a contract stating they will maintain at least a 2.3 GPA, will attend all their classes, will sit in the front row of all their classes, and will wear a jacket and tie on game days. His on-court practices are just as hard. Any perceived slight is received with a penalty of either push-ups or suicides. His methods are mean, but they work. The team becomes unbeatable. But when Carter finds out the players haven't been keeping up with their end of the contract, he locks the team out. The town goes into an uproar and its up to Coach Carter to make everyone realize that while being good at basketball is great, becoming a better human being through learning, is even greater.
I don't remember the last time an audience clapped so hard for a fake basketball game. Anytime a game was being played on screen, the crowd I was with was cheering right along with the extras on camera. The basketball scenes were filmed pretty well and I could understand everyone getting into it. But the crowd, and I, laughed a lot too, sometimes during scenes that were supposed to be serious. Coach Carter didn't break any new ground as far as storytelling goes. The story of one man trying to influence a group of youths through hard-nosed discipline and education has been done before. And us as a moviegoing crowd knows what's going to happen next. So when someone makes a speech that's supposed to be uplifting and serious, it becomes funny because it sounds like... it should be in a movie. It's like having a bunch of guys sitting around watching March Madness, and suddenly during a timeout, one of them decides to share his feelings about his life. The rest of his friends will sit, listen, nod their head, then laugh in his face and tell him to shut up. Not that they don't care, but it's overemotional for the time and place. That's how I felt about the movie. Yes the thought is nice, but maybe in another movie where it isn't as obvious.
The main characters were all well acted. Samuel L. Jackson is always a standout, even when he makes poor role choices. I thought the basketball players were all pretty good, at least the ones that spoke. For some reason out of the 10 or 11 players, only 7 of them really said anything. There were one or two players that were just there to fill out the roster I guess. What I noticed in this film, that I've never noticed in any other movie before, were the background actors. It was laughable how bad they were. Maybe the director was concentrating too hard on his stars because there were times where the background actors were acting like lunatics for no apparent reason. They were either over-the-top or completely bored out of their mind. It's not a big thing, but it became a little distracting.
Like I said before, the basketball scenes were done pretty well. Although I did notice that we saw the team practice one offensive play. For the most part they were taught how to play defense, and how to run, but on offense they were just told to run up and down as hard as they could. I don't think they ever missed a shot and there were an awful lot of three-pointers and dunks. For such a stern coach, you'd think he'd have taught the fundamentals and we would have seen more Tim Duncan-like plays with players shooting the 12-foot jump shot and using the backboard. The movie is based on a true story, so I don't know how much was real and how much was Hollywood, but the secondary story lines felt short-shifted, which is odd considering how long the movie was. You had the kid who didn't want to play, went to sell drugs, came back on the team, then left again, then came back again after tragedy struck. I never got a real sense of why he left the second time, nor how bad his life was when he left. Then there was the secondary story line that included talk of abortion. I thought that was a pretty heady subject to delve into in this kind of movie. But if they're going to include it, they should discuss a little deeper. If they had made the movie a little tighter by scaling back on some of the outside stories, and cut some of the schmaltz from the main plot, I think the movie could have been much better. As it was, it just kept going on and on and on and just when you think it's over, there's another scene.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, Coach Carter wasn't a bad film, it just wasn't anything new. I'll probably never see it again, but if someone wanted to see this kind of uplifting story and have a few laughs, I'd recommend it.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince