Story: Based off the real life story of California’s Richmond High School’s undefeated basketball team that was benched by its coach, Ken Carter, due to poor academic grades, Coach Carter follows the introduction of Carter (played by Samuel L. Jackson) to the team as their new coach as he implements his rigorous practices (the team is losing most games at this point) and his emphasis on good performances in school as well as on the court. The team itself (occupied by actors like Rob Brown, Channing Tatum, and Rick Gonzalez) is initially hesitate to except Carter and his ideas. The school has a terrible success rate and is situated in a neighborhood that often encourages illegal dealings over aspirations to go to college and be legitimately successful. There’s also the high school principal (played by Denise Dowse) and the group of team parents who often doubt the coach’s methods. So Carter has a lot to fight against. But can he get through to everyone and show them the potential he knows these young men possess.
Thoughts: Coach Carter doesn’t standout much from the large crowd of sports film that have been made over the decades. It also takes some liberties with the real life events in order to make the story more filmic and our title character a greater hero. But both are standard changes in adaptions of true stories. What this movie has to make up for its cliches is an altered but interesting story, good performances, and the foresight to use cliches that audiences love so that we don’t push them angrily away but happily embrace them for the lovable feel-good, inspirational material that they’ve remained after countless retreads. Despite its flaws and its overuse of inspirational speeches, it remains one of my favorite sports films.