By Briana McNeil
I often ask myself when I see a movie like "Coach Carter" if there is value in seeing the same story for maybe the fifth time if it is a new era, a new set of actors and a similar message. My conclusion is if the message is good, then yes, bring on the movie that is reminiscent of "Stand and Deliver," "Lean on Me," and whatever other uplifting film that will instill the message that "you can be someone, you are triumphant." This is probably why Samuel L. Jackson signed up for a project like Coach Carter. A good message can’t be told too many times.
"Coach Carter" is based on the true story of Ken Carter, a controversial coach who benches his winning team for poor academic performance. Jackson as Coach Carter is the ultimate disciplinarian. By pushing his team to do endless push ups and suicides and giving them key "life lessons" about the meaning of respect and discipline, Coach Carter turns a group of angry and undisciplined youth into an undefeated basketball team. There is one caveat, each member must sign a contract promising to come to class and sit in the front row, attend each practice and maintain a grade point average of 2.3.
When the team fails to hold up their end of the agreement by getting less than the required 2.3 g. p. a on their progress reports Coach Carter locks the door to the gym, halting games until each member performs up to par.
Coach Carter is met with harsh criticism. The team’s parents especially would rather their children play high school ball than excel academically. Even the seemingly intelligent principal feels that they should not be challenged academically. Coach Carter is stoic, refusing to bend to parent’s and administrator’s requests. His student’s learn that there is more to life than ball. There is college, a place the Coach is sure each of them has the potential of gaining entrance to.
This movie’s message is clear and while it is an important one, the message can get down right preachy. Yet, the obvious appeal comes in what makes sports movies great. You know, those moments when the camera slows down and only the echo of the player’s shoes on the hollow gym floor is heard. When the only thing between winning and losing the game is the clock and the human spirit. You understand. Even more appealing are the performances of young actors like Kenyon Stone, "Finding Forrester," and singer Ashanti who makes her acting debut and Rick Gonzalez who plays the rebellious Timo Cruz. Acting with a seasoned actor like Samuel L. Jackson probably forced them to step it up a notch.