Film review by Gordon Justesen
Technical specs by Michael Jacobson
Samuel L. Jackson, Rob Brown, Robert Ri’chard, Rick Gonzalez, Ashanti
Director: Thomas Carter
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Features: See Review
Length: 136 Minutes
Release Date: December 16, 2008
is your deepest fear?”
deepest fear is not that we’re inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are
powerful beyond measure.”
It seems that
sports movies that are based on true events make for the most effective of the
genre. Films like Hoosiers and, even
more recently, Friday Night Lights,
have demonstrated the ultimate power and realism of the struggle for
championship glory. Now comes Coach Carter,
a fact-based basketball drama that is a bit different from the traditional high
school sports movie.
The film is
inspired by the life of Coach Ken Carter, a man who went to extreme lengths to
see that his team not only succeeds on the basketball court, but also in the
classroom. In 1999, Carter made headlines resulting from his decision to forfeit
several basketball games, due to his players not making the good grades they had
promised to achieve when they had signed a contract with the Coach at the
beginning of the season. The gesture made him a somewhat controversial figure.
Carter is played in
the movie by Samuel L. Jackson in a truly forceful performance. Upon becoming
the new basketball coach at California’s Richmond High School he informs his
team, who only won four games in the last season, that they will be given
contracts stating that they will agree to maintain a required grade point
average of 2.3 or higher, dress up on game days, and address each other as Sir.
Most of the players on the team are somewhat cocky, and have problems adjusting
to the new policy.
play around when it comes to practice. If a player is so much as a minute late
for practice, he should execute a series of push ups and sprints. A single act
of disrespect of even disagreement towards him will result in even more push ups
The movie also
takes a look at the lives of the struggling players on the team. The star
player, Kenyon Stone (Rob Brown), is contemplating going to college in spite of
his girlfriend, Kyra (Ashanti), having a baby on the way. There’s Timo Cruz
(Rick Gonzalez) who at first quits the team when refusing to put up with
Carter’s strict rules, only to ask to re-join, which Carter allows in exchange
for an unimaginable number of sprints and suicides. And there’s Carter’s own
son, Damien (Robert Ri’chard), who attends prep school but soon transfers to
Richmond to be on his father’s team, and turns out to be one of the teams best
Despite taking the
team to a winning season, Carter discovers midway through the season that his
players are failing at least one class each. He finds this unacceptable, and
retaliates by locking the gymnasium and forfeiting all games until their grades
are at least a C average. I’ve never seen a single sports coach illustrate the
notion of academics over athletics to the extent that Coach Carter has.
This is quite
easily the best basketball movie since Hoosiers,
and it does carry a valuable message with it. Coach Carter serves as both an entertaining, crowd pleasing sports
movie, but also as a reminder to those thinking of making a career in sports.
That message is, no matter how talented you think you are, it’s the
achievement in the classroom that is the ultimate key to winning.
about twenty minutes too long, and including one subplot too many, Coach
Carter is nevertheless a very fine film with another fantastic performance
from Mr. Jackson.
Kudos to Paramount for delivering a top notch Blu-ray presentation for this, maybe the first sports themed movie I've seen in the format. Whether on the court or in the classroom, the high definition transfer maintains a superb visual clarity, richly detailed and boasting natural looking and well-contained colors with no bleeding, compression or undue grain to mar the effect.
It's really in the games where the TrueHD track comes to life with dynamic range, ambient crowd sounds, and lots of b-ball related noises to really put you in the heart of the play. Most of the movie is dialogue oriented, but the spoken words come through well and balance nicely against the bigger and fuller scenes.
Not exactly the loaded feature level we’re accustomed to seeing from Paramount, but it’s not exactly a technical foul. Included are two well made featurettes; “Coach Carter: The Man Behind the Movie” and “Fast Break at Richmond High”. There’s also several deleted scenes, a music video for the song “Hope” by Twista and Faith Evans, and several bonus previews for Paramount titles.
Coach Carter is perhaps the most inspirational movie to come around in some time. This fact-based drama on Blu-ray is a must see for fans of basketball, dramatic storytelling and Samuel L. Jackson, who delivers another fantastic performance.