Fitting into the genre pattern of "Dangerous Minds" and, even, "Les Choriste," this latest
"save the delinquents" rescue does its job of warming the heart. You take a
group of misbehavers, make them somehow sympathetic, and watch as they
overcome odds and turn themselves around. So many of these claim to be based
on true stories. This one does, too.
But there's a catch. The credit is "inspired by the life of Coach Ken
Carter." If that feels to you like a loose rendering, it's probably because
it is. Which is why it also feels formulaic, stereotypical, and entirely
Putting the negative vibes aside and dwelling instead on the good intentions,
we come to the side of Ken Carter (Samuel L. Jackson), a store owner and an
acclaimed basketball alumnus of Richmond High. So it is that the current
team coach asks him to take over the position, though not without warning him
of the problems with a team that won ony 4 games the previous season.
He thinks about it and he takes it, asking only that he will be allowed to do
it his way. Not allowing his listless group of underachievers called a team
to thwart him in any way or style, he obliges each member to sign his
contract or clear out. It requires that they maintain at least a 2.3 Grade
Point Average and behave with respect and dignity.
His rules come with teeth, rather extreme ones. Infractions are erased with
500 pushups or more, and a great many "suicide" drills. There's of course a
purpose behind his emphasis on conditioning, knowing that it will make the
difference on the court against teams of inferior fitness. Of course, their
first game is a win because of that disparity, and the team members begin to
develop some appreciation for the man requiring so much of them.
Stories like these are only as good as the individual dramas, and it follows
several characters closely, though their interest level is somewhat below the
curve of a TV sitcom. Kenyon Stone (Rob Brown, "Finding Forrester"), a level
headed young man, has impregnated his demanding girlfriend Kyra (Ashanti).
His problem is figuring out how to handle his dream of college basketball and
being a dad.
Damien Carter (Robert Ri'chard), the coach's son, has to figure out how he's
going to get on his dad's team when the old man wants him to attend a better
school. Timo Cruz (Rick Gonzalez), the incipient drug dealer of the lot and
the closest to an immediate life of crime, has to pay penance when he
realizes the team more than the streets. His penalty for going astray is
punishing and man-building and produces the first sign of incipient team
Get it now! (Click on item link)|
The Blu-ray Edition DVD
Coach Carter: The Man Behind the Movie
Fast Break at Ridgmond High
6 Deleted scenes
"Hope" Music video by Twista featuring Faith Evans
Writing Coach Carter: The Two-man Game
Coach Carter: Making the Cut
Theatrical trailer in HD
Then there's... well, you get the idea. Personal mountains to climb, steady
team victories, a taskmaster who is almost taken down by a community that
puts basketball before anything and is willing to lose their coach over it,
But tell that to director Thomas Carter. Trouble is, he and his writing team
of Mark Schwahn and John Gatins are too busy sermonizing to listen. Their
love of this material drove them into a preposterous 135 minute running time,
a penalty that feels all too much like one of the coach's remedies for
delinquency or disrespect and not enough like the discipline their own
character stands for. I say to them: remember what you had him say, "Success
in here is the key to success out there."
I assign them each 1500 pushups and 2500 suicides, by Friday.
~~ Jules Brenner