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Coach Carter

Genre: Drama
Rated: PG-13
Directed by
: THOMAS CARTER
Producers: DAVID GALE, BRIAN ROBBINS, MICHAEL TOLLIN
Starring: SAMUEL L. JACKSON, ROBERT RI'CHARD, RICK GONZALEZ, ASHANTI, ADRIENNE BAILON, DEBBI MORGAN
Released by: Paramount Pictures


In Short: Manipulative in its emotion and driven by a head-nodding hip hop soundtrack, “Coach Carter” does manage to keep your interest – but only when Jackson is on the screen.

Coach Smarter
No Slam Dunk For Predictable Neighborhood Drama
By Cherie Saunders

This true story follows the controversy surrounding high school basketball coach Ken Carter (Samuel L. Jackson), who in 1999 became both the model of everything right in high school athletics and the object of a community backlash when he benched his undefeated team due to their collective poor academic performance. Rick Gonzalez (“The Rookie”) and Rob Brown (“Finding Forrester”) lead the young, energetic group of actors portraying the Richmond Oilers.

The squad’s on-court talent is unparalleled throughout the city, as Carter’s high expectations in practice translate to victory after victory. Unfortunately for the boys, Carter’s high expectations go beyond the gym walls and onto their scholastic achievements. When several of the players are discovered to be failing classes, Carter makes the entire undefeated team pay by padlocking the gym and canceling practice, as well as games, until their grades come up. The move was called courageous and admirable by some, but others – most notably, the parents of standout players – felt Carter’s actions were thwarting the kids’ only way out of the inner city.

Jackson’s mesmerizing presence is the only thing lifting “Coach Carter” out of the formulaic “After School Special” doldrums. Predictable neighborhood drama surrounds the hardscrabble players. Kenyon Stone (Brown), one of the teammates, has a pregnant girlfriend, played by R&B star Ashanti. The hard-headed Timo Cruz (Gonzalez) has an attitude that not only threatens his position on the team, but puts him in harm’s way on the block. Manipulative in its emotion and driven by a head-nodding hip hop soundtrack, “Coach Carter” does manage to keep your interest – but only when Jackson is on the screen.


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