Coach Carter is a film based on a true story about a high school basketball coach, Ken Carter, who was made famous by disrupting the 1999 undefeated basketball season of Richmond High School because of poor academic performance by members of his team. Coach Carter was released in theaters in January 2005. The film was directed by Thomas Carter and produced by David Gale, Brian Robbins and Michael Tollin. The cast included Samuel L. Jackson, Rob Brown, Channing Tatum, Rick Gonzalez and Ashanti. Thomas Carter was nominated and won the Black Movie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Directing for the film. Mr. Jackson was nominated and won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture for his portrayal of Ken Carter. The music composer and orchestrator was Trevor Robins. The movie was filmed in California. The film had a budget of $30,000,000. The box office, both domestic and international, grossed $76, 669,806.
Coach Carter is a movie about a high school basketball team from Richmond, California that learned from their coach that their future did not have to be determined by their environment. Ken Carter fought for change within a school system that had lost its hope. The school administration had a defeatist attitude when it came to their students. The administration was willing to accept that most of the school would not graduate and that the sports program was the only area of pride for the community. Coach Carter brought a new philosophy when he began coaching the team. He stood alone in the fight to enforce that grades came before sports. He was committed to his players and eventually they became committed to each other. One particular scene in the movie showed a turning point from a group of individual teenagers to a unified team. One of the teens, Timo Cruz, had left the team because he was frustrated with Ken Carters rules. He realized that he had nothing without the team and wanted to return. Coach Carter gave him a seemingly impossible amount of push ups and suicide drills to accomplish by the end of the week. When he was unable to complete the drills, Coach Carter told him he was sorry but he could not return because he did not complete the assignment. The other members of the basketball team volunteered to take on the remaining exercises and split them up in order for Cruz to return to the team. It was at that moment that they truly became the team that Coach Carter had been attempting to build. In addition, Coach Carter taught them good sportsmanship. He did not allow taunting of the opposing team. He expected them to dress professionally on game day. He was teaching them traits that would prepare them for life after high school. As the year progresses several of the players realize they have an opportunity to go to college. Several players do in fact go to college and they are shown at the end of the film prior to the credits.
Samuel Jackson did an outstanding job as Ken Carter. Ken Carter himself was interviewed in 2015 about the making of Coach Carter. He told the Esquire reporter that he insisted the story be based on facts. He verified that the film is 98.5 percent correct and that he was on the set everyday to insure that the story stayed true to the actual events. The screenplay was based on his documentation written during that 1999 basketball season, including the contracts that were signed between the Richmond High basketball team members and himself. The contracts were an agreement that a 2.3 grade point average must be maintained in order for a player to be part of the team. The games used during the film were authentic. The actors were trained for three months on how to play basketball. Basketball players who were used in the movie were trained to act. Together the two groups had actual scrimmages. Ken Carter stated that when the actors missed their shots they had to do 100 push ups which resulted in a lot more commitment on their part to practice basketball. He talked about watching as Samuel Jackson became him. He said that Mr. Jackson had his pattern of speech and his movements perfect. Jackson portrayed Ken Carter with his usual level of confidence. He was believable as the no nonsense disciplinarian who created a basketball team using rules, wisdom and caring.
The film is inspirational. It shows that one man can make a change in the lives of others by conviction and dedication. Ken Carter stood alone in front of the school administration and the community with his beliefs on how to change the outcome of the young men in that community. He was willing to give up his job before he would give up his beliefs. In the end, his team realized his commitment to them and began to believe in themselves. The film was criticized by some for being too predictable. I donít think there could ever be too many films that depict helping others and fighting for positive change. I applaud the film and would recommend it to anyone as a movie worth watching.