Coach Carter!

7:54 PM / Posted by Aiman /

Either real life is becoming more like a movie, or sports movies inspired by a true story exist in their own form of reality. Coach Carter tells the story of a basketball coach who takes a losing team and turns them into winners both on and off the court. For that to happen, though, it has to find something beyond the formula which is something that does bring it out of the realm of movie reality and into our own. The difficult part is to make the students that means for sports action into the all-stars type of player in the basketball games. On that level, Coach Carter neglects its characters, leaving development of their lives to a select few and putting those few into situations that feel more like filler than actual personal crises.
The Richmond High Oilers have not had a good record, winning only four games last season, and it's time for a change in management. Ken Carter (Samuel L. Jackson), a record-maker when he attended Richmond, is looking into possibly taking the job as their new coach, and after watching them play his son Damien's (Robert Richard) high school St. Francis and witnessing the game almost turn into a brawl, he can see they are in dire need of some leadership. He decides to take the job, under a few conditions. The players will sign a contract agreeing to keep a minimum 2.3 grade point average, go to every class, and sit in the front row. He will have access to progress reports on all of his players from their teachers to make sure they are honoring the contract. This announcement doesn't go over too well at the first practice, and Carter loses a few players right off the bat, including last year's high scorer Timo Cruz (Rick Gonzalez). In Carter's mind, this is only a minor setback, and he starts the team on a regiment of hustling up and down the court and game fundamentals.
Needless to say, the team does a turnaround by focusing on the basics, and their progress is shown in quick-cut sequences of basketball action. Never do these sequences feel like a game, only a highlight reel, and as much a letdown these scenes are, the bulk of the movie consists of the players and their coach off the court. Here Mark Schwahn and John Gatins' script shows familiarity and simplification. Damien transfers to Richmond, and after the initial debate between he and his father, his only purpose is to be caught later with the team at party after winning a tournament. The only players' lives to have any screen time are Cruz and Kenyon Stone (Rob Brown). The former has an obscure relationship with his cousin involving money being passed underhand, while the latter tries to manage his life with pregnant girlfriend Kyra (Ashanti). Neither story effectively conveys the difficulties and perils of life outside of the school environment.
The movie finds some footing when Carter discovers that members of his team have been skipping class and failing to honor the GPA requirement of their contract. In response, Carter locks up the gym, cancels games, and sends his team to the library instead of practice, where teachers are awaiting to set the boys' academic lives straight. Carter tells them startling statistics of graduation rates, college admission denials, and prison sentences, and his logic just makes good sense. So, Cruz finds his way back, Stone's conflict with his girlfriend is relieved in an insultingly simplistic way, and there's the obligatory big game in which more of the game is shown than before, but this time it comes across as an extended highlight reel.
The movie even ends with a coda telling us what happened to the half or so of the team that did go off the college, and from Carter's reciting of statistics earlier, it doesn't seem like much of a change from the status quo.


Comment by Synlynn on September 2, 2009 at 4:19 AM

hey..ur "about me"
what dont bully me?!!
i thk u r the one who bully people

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