Film Review: Coach Carter (2005)

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(source: tmdb.org)

Samuel L. Jackson had many effective roles during his illustrious career, although only few of them can be actually named with ease by casual cinephiles. One such example can be found in the protagonist of Coach Carter, 2005 sports biopic directed by Thomas Carter.

The film is based on true events that took place in Richmond, California in 1999. Jackson plays Ken Carter, a small business owner who is hired to coach the Oilers, the local high school's basketball team. Carter has a strong connection to the school, having been a star player there in his youth and earning numerous trophies. However, he finds the team members to be undisciplined and unmotivated, and he decides to turn things around by applying his own beliefs. Carter's unconventional methods include making academic performance a priority over sports results. He requires the players to sign a contract stipulating that they must maintain a certain grade point average in order to play. This approach seems to work, as the young men improve their game and begin to win matches. However, when Carter learns that the players, with the tacit approval of the school authorities, have not been upholding their end of the contract, he takes a drastic and controversial measure – he locks out the gym and declares that they will only be allowed to play if they start to study.

This role is quite different from the educator Jackson played in the dark drama One Eight Seven, where he portrayed an educator dealing with troubled youth in an inner-city school. Produced by MTV Films and based on real events, Coach Carter represents a more conventional, feel-good sports film with a positive message. The filmmakers have clearly tried to show that their hearts were in the right place.

Jackson's performance, though, is a standout, and he is ably supported by a talented cast, including Octavia Spencer as Carter's wife and Channing Tatum, making his feature film debut as one of Carter's students. Tatum, who had never played basketball before, threw himself into the role, training extensively to capture the athletic prowess required. His dedication and natural talent have since seen him build a successful career in dance and action films.

Despite some flaws, including a PG-13 rating that prevents the film from fully exploring the darker aspects of the story, Coach Carter remains an inspiring and uplifting watch, thanks in large part to Jackson's commanding performance. His regal presence helps to elevate the film above its more predictable elements, and the audience is quickly won over by his portrayal of a man determined to instil discipline and values in his players, both on and off the court. While Coach Carter may not be the most innovative or groundbreaking sports film, it remains a solid and engaging biopic, bolstered by Jackson's powerful portrayal of a true-life hero.

RATING: 5/10 (++)

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2 comments
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What?! I can't believe this review, from this well done movie, has so little aupport. A bit odd, mate... Let me tell you something, I do appreciate it and I find it educational above all things.

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This is one of those amazing inspirational sport stories that will live forever in history. This was an amazing film that I have seen a number of times and because of your review I think I will go back and watch it yet again.