Coach Carter


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"This review is based on the last 100 minutes of the film.  There was a lot of traffic getting to the theater."










Coach Carter
The Masked Reviewer

If you're expecting to see a movie about a guy teaching people how to properly handle a chafing dish, you're probably looking for Coach Caterer.  This isn't about catering.  It's about basketball, coaching, and...people. 

It's either based on a true story, or it actually is a true story.  The Masked Reviewer isn't sure.  Why isn't the Masked Reviewer sure?  Because the movie started a half hour before the Masked Reviewer expected it to start.  So, things were already well under way.

Now, you may be asking yourself how any movie reviewer worth his salt could possibly speak about a movie without having seen the entire thing.  That's a fair question.  The answer is simple.  The Masked Reviewer came from behind.  He didn't give up.  He hung in there and gave it his all.  Coach Carter would've wanted it that way.

This is a basketball movie.  Have you seen any basketball movies?  Imagine one of those, and that's what this is like.  Not to give anything away (because that might spoil the movie for you), but it's about a bunch of players who have to overcome their personal problems and come together as a team to learn about the true meaning of

Here's what sets this movie apart from your typical sports movie: Samuel L. Jackson is the coach.  How could it not be good?  He makes a good coach.  He's firm, he's caring, and he's Samuel L. Jackson!  "And you will know that my name is the Coach when I lay my vengeance upon thee!"  All the attitude, all the coolness, all the badassedness...but this time it's to help the kids.

The movie could probably be adequately described in two words: Urban Hoosiers.  There aren't any big surprises in terms of story or character development.  He's kind of like Morgan Freeman's character in Stand By Me.  No wait, that was the Stephen King movie with Wil Wheaton.  What's up with Wil Wheaton anyway?  Why does he spell his first name with only one L?  In any event, the movie with Morgan Freeman was Lean on Me; caring teacher does all to help his students with tough love.  That's Coach Carter.  It's nice and it's sweet, but it's also formulaic. 

The supporting cast isn't made up of marquee superstars.  In fact, it's unlikely that most people will recognize anyone other than Samuel L. Jackson.  (What's the L stand for?  Is it the second L from Wil Wheaton's name?)  However, the supporting cast are all rather good.  They're believable and somehow everyone manages to avoid any feeling of hokiness, given how the basic story (even though it's true (or based on a true story)) is rather sappy and predictable.

Let's not forget the basketball.  It's fun to watch in this film.  There are some nice moments, and it features some compelling on-court action, if you like the game.  They also do a fine job of conveying what it's like to be on a team, and what it's like to  train under a strict coach who is devoted to his players. 

The movie is directed by Thomas Carter, who is of no relation to the titular Coach Carter (at least, the Masked Reviewer isn't aware of any relation).  He's probably also not related to Jimmy Carter.  The direction is good; he extracted solid performances from everyone, and the basketball action is clear and engaging.  The Masked Reviewer didn't feel like the pacing was a problem, but then again, he missed the first half hour of the film.  At over two hours in length, it could be that this was an important consideration.  It wasn't exactly brisk, even without seeing the first 30 minutes.  Also, there is nothing that's missed if you skip the first thirty minutes...every relationship and plot element are clear if you skip them.  So, don't blame the Masked Reviewer if you see it and it feels long.  This review is based on the last 100 minutes of the film.  There was a lot of traffic getting to the theater.

It's a feel-good film, there's no doubt about it.  It's hard not to cheer for the team and not feel something for the players.  There are a lot of good laughs in the movie; not cheap jokes or sight gags, but genuinely funny moments that come out of good character development.  Samuel L. Jackson carries the movie, and it's one of his finest performances.  His fans will be very happy with his work.  If you just want a nice team movie, it's a good one.   

Expectation from the Title: After years of lugging cargo around on the back of Speedy, his trusted donkey, mailman Stinky McAllister decides to cart his load in a stagecoach, leading the way to a new era in efficient postal service.  That era is subsequently ruined by the invention of junk mail.

Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):  Samuel L. Jackson is Absolutely L. Great.

The Pros: Samuel L. Jackson carries the film and does it well.  Good laughs, nice mushy stuff, it avoids being trite or boring.  Good basketball action.

The Cons: Done-to-death sports story combined with done-to-death "teacher helping kids despite the system they're in" story.  Sure, it may be true, but true doesn't save it from being overdone.


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