Review: Coach Carter

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Samuel L Jackson in Coach Carter
How's that for backlighting: Samuel L Jackson in Coach Carter



“Inspirational coach” movies come in many shapes and sizes. This one comes in the shape of Samuel L. Jackson, the tough talking, clean-living paragon of virtue who comes into a troubled school and turns around the basketball team in the teeth of indifference from pupils, teachers and … sorry, am I boring you? There’s a little more to Coach Carter than the usual sports movie fare. To whit: it is based on the true story of the coach who insisted his players properly knuckle down. He made them sign contracts. Controversially, he also insisted they got good grades in their other classes otherwise they were off the team. And outrageously, he closed the team’s gym when a couple of his players broke the terms of their contract – to the ire of the players and the local community who couldn’t understand what the fuss about book learning was anyway. Those nuggety taste-explosions of plot aside, there’s not much to see here. Apart from Jackson himself, who produces enough electricity to keep this bag of clichés going… almost.

© Steve Morrissey 2006


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Coach Carter (2005) Biography, Drama, Sport | 136min | 14 January 2005 (USA) 7.3
Director: Thomas CarterWriter: Mark Schwahn, John GatinsStars: Samuel L. Jackson, Rick Gonzalez, Robert Ri'chardSummary: In 1999, Ken Carter accepts the job of basketball coach for his old high school in a poor area of Richmond, CA. As much dismayed by the poor attitudes of his players as well as their dismal play performance, Carter sets about to change both. He imposes a strict regime typified in written contracts that demand respectful behavior, a dress code and good grades for players. Any initial resistance is soon dispelled as the team under Carter's tutelage becomes a undefeated competitor. However, when the overconfident team's behavior begins to stray with too many doing poorly in class, Carter takes immediate action. To the outrage of the team, the school and the community, Carter cancels all team activities and locks the court until the team shows acceptable academic improvement. In the ensuing debate, Carter fights to keep his methods, determined to show the boys that they need good values for their futures and eventually finds he has affected them more profoundly than he ever expected. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (


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