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Coach Carter
2005 - PG-13 - 134 Mins.
Director: Thomas Carter
Producer: Brian Robbins and Michael Tollin
Written By: Mark Schwain and John Gatins
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Rob Brown, Ashanti, Robert Richard, Rick Gonzalez
Review by: Joe Rickey
Official Site: www.coachcartermovie.com
   
A group of misfit high schoolers get taught a lesson or two in life while winning on the basketball court in yet another entry into the “inspirational sports film” sub-genre of films. Thankfully, the based-on-a-true-story ‘Coach Carter’ is blessed with star Samuel L. Jackson, an actor whose screen presence permeates every frame he appears in. Without him, the film would just be another clichéd melodrama not unlike something you can see with some regularity on network television (when it isn’t busy running countless crime shows or reality shows, both interested in turning the viewer’s stomach in one way or another).

As for the nuts and bolts of the plot, it concerns a high school basketball team that has become a perennial loser because of the dissention among the players over every possible issue one can think of under the sun (hey, it sounds a lot like most every professional sports team in this day and age where the dollar is more almighty than ever before). Said dissent leads the current coach to quit, but not before bringing in longtime Ken Carter as his replacement. Carter promises to teach the band of underachievers a little (make that a lot) of discipline while boosting the respect quotient from the depths of hell. Many scenes of players working out, yelling at one another, listening to Carter shout-speak, and, ultimately, triumphing over adversity (come on, tell me you didn’t see it coming?).

‘Coach Carter’ does not try and reinvent the wheel, as the plot synopsis will attest. Director Thomas Carter (no relation but what are the chances of that?) and screenwriters Mark Schwain and John Gatins combine to create a film that utilizes a formula as old as the dinosaurs (well, maybe not that old. I wonder what type of films cave men would have made…oh nevermind) as their method to illustrate just how great an actor Samuel L. Jackson really is.

As mentioned, Jackson commands the screen at every turn, generating emotion even when the material is so obviously beneath him. That’s not to say that he gives the only good performance in the film. As the most intelligent, least confrontational member of the team (aside from Carter’s son, ably played by Robert Richard) Rob Brown adds to an increasingly impressive oeuvre (he was also quite convincing as the student to Sean Connery’s teacher in ‘Finding Forrester’) with a performance that is perfectly understated, a blessing when you consider that Jackson brings enough energy to light an entire metropolis.

As expected, the film is hampered by its predictability. One can see the outcome coming a mile away. In the end though, ‘Coach Carter’ gets by on the brute force of the performances of its cast, making it a recommendation for most viewers, especially if you are a fan of Mr. Jackson.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental.
  3.5 out of 5 stars

 
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