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:: Coach Carter

“Inspired by a true story”, Coach Carter tells the story of Richmond high school basketball coach Ken Carter (Samuel L. Jackson). Carter gained media attention in 1999 for locking out the entire basketball team from the high school gym, prohibiting them from playing any games until their academic scores improved.

Carter, a stern disciplined man enters the scene of his former high school as a coach determined to change the fate of the Richmond Oilers. Welcoming his new team by handing out compulsory contracts enforcing that each must have a C+ average, attend all classes, sit in the front row and wear a suit and tie to game day. Yes this ruffles some features, but all in all the boys oblige for the “privilege” to play basketball.

The boys prove Carter right, remaining undefeated well into the news season. The obligatory issues soon enough pop up, pregnant girlfriend, drug dealing, can’t read.

Then… low and behold, Carter discovers that he doesn’t have the support of the school faculty in maintaining their grade point average and quickly discovers that his boys, after having won a championship title, are failing classes.

Angered and betrayed, basketball is officially off until further notice, that is until each player puts studying and grades before anything else, honoring their part if the contract. Much to the anger of the locals and parents who claims basketball is all their child and community has, Carter is forced to resign for the greater good, claiming that these students, likely to end up in jail, on the streets, drug dealers or even worse dead need to go to college and study, more than they need basketball.

Yes, his message gets through and after the final playoffs they learn once again that sometimes when you lose you really win… Well done coach Carter.

Lead by a commanding and solid performance by Samuel L. Jackson, it is definitely his show. The boys do a pretty impressive job both on and off the court especially the more experienced ones, drug dealer Cruz (Rick Gonzalez) and boy-with-pregnant-girlfriend Kenyan (Rob Brown).

Coach Carter is a strictly inspirational sport drama by numbers, there is nothing new here or remotely surprising. Filled with stereotypes of the ‘hood and predictable dilemmas, it borders on, wow it’s so realistic to here we go again. One is more tempted to respond with the latter. It is yet another recent movie going way past its curfew at just over two hours. It’s a shame that there isn’t so much ado about the man himself, his past and his personal life.

The story is at times unevenly, I mean what was that whole pool posse party thing about? Looked like a music video, possibly catering to MTV execs and audience. Possessing a strong midday movie feel about it, the direction is as uninspired as much as the story itself claims to be. When you tear away all the boring bits and predictable stereotypes and story and listen to the message itself laid bare, it does have some interesting (although not necessarily new) things to say.