You don’t have to look far for life lessons that can be taken from the basketball court. The heat of the moment leads to pressure and pressure leads to snap decisions. With that you can either celebrate victory or ponder the defeat. Many of these lessons can be pulled from other sports as well, but basketball is such a fast-paced sport where a couple of seconds can make all the difference. Thomas Carter’s Coach Carter sheds light on some of the learning that can be found on the court. It also provides star Samuel L. Jackson plenty of opportunity to give inspiring speeches. And while the film is over the top at times, Coach Carter has a big heart that doesn’t shy away from challenging the American education system.
Coach Carter starts out stating that the film was “inspired” by the life of Ken Carter. That should be a flag right there to signal that some things might be made a wee bit bigger in the name of drama. That should be expected from any film but “inspired” is a much more vague term than the usual “based on real events.”
The film version of Carter is a successful sporting goods store owner. A proponent for local sports, he finds himself taking the job as the head coach of his inner city alma matter, St. Francis. The team is very rough and undisciplined. Carter’s first step is to get the boys to sign a contract that spells out the tough requirements necessary for staying on the team. Although Carter thrives off winning, he demands that his players are successful in every area of their life.
Struggles emerge as Carter’s unorthodox methods rub his players, their families and the community the wrong way. But it’s amazing what a little winning can do. As life in the city shows itself, Carter uses the court to turn boys into something resembling men. He teaches them lessons where no learning had happened before.
Like many sports films, Coach Carter doesn’t lack in inspiring moments. Carter uses his character’s imperfections to make them real. By making them rounded, they become people you can relate with even when the scenarios are different. I’m a sucker for the sports film in how almost every time it revolves around the underdog. Who doesn’t love an underdog?
Coach Carter is a showcase role for Jackson, who seems to alternate between serious roles such as this with joke roles that pay the bills and keep his name in the headlines. Jackson excels here with the confidence he brings to the role. It’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role as he oozes the fatherly confidence and wisdom required to turn the team around.
Perhaps the biggest gripe I have with Coach Carter is the fact there’s few surprises – even with the things that are supposed to be surprising. But perhaps that’s equally a testament to the fact that the film develops so well. Things make sense.
Coach Carter does an excellent job of showcasing how one man can bring change to a system. It’s inspiring without going too far (most of the time) and uplifting, even for gangly folks like myself whose life lessons on the basketball court were limited to playing basketball leads to embarrassment.
Coach Carter Blu-ray Review
Coach Carter comes to Blu-ray with an excellent 1080p high definition picture. Audio is also excellent in English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD. There are additional 5.1 Dolby Digital audio tracks in French and Spanish. Subtitles are available in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish.
The bonus features are pretty standard stuff. It’s nothing overwhelming, but it’s also quite informative and honest towards the subject matter as well as the making of the film. “Coach Carter: The Man Behind the Movie” is a 20-minute biography of the real-life Ken Carter. It features extensive interviews with Carter and his former players. Running about 12 minutes, “Fast Break at Richmond High” breaks down the choreography of the on-court action shown on the screen. “Writing Coach Carter: The Two Man Game” is pretty self explanatory. Using interviews with writer Mark Schwahn and John Gatins, as well as other cast and crew, this eight-minute featurette shows how the real story became a screenplay. Continuing with the sports-themed special feature titles, “Coach Carter: Making the Cut” looks at the people behind the scenes in the making of the film such as Samuel L. Jackson and director Thomas Carter. There’s also six deleted scenes, a music video for “Hope” by Twista and featuring Faith Evans and a theatrical trailer in high definition. Other than the trailer, all of the other bonus features are in standard definition.
Coach Carter Gallery