Coach Carter

Critics Consensus

Even though it's based on a true story, Coach Carter is pretty formulaic stuff, but it's effective and energetic, thanks to a strong central performance from Samuel L. Jackson.



Total Count: 150


Audience Score

User Ratings: 406,622
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Movie Info

The true-life story of a coach who tries to teach his players that there's more to life than basketball is brought to the screen in this sports drama. Ken Carter (Samuel L. Jackson) was once a star player on the Richmond High School basketball team in Richmond, CA, and years later, after establishing himself in publishing and marketing, he returns to the school and to the team as the new basketball coach. Carter quickly sees that his work is cut out for him -- the team is having an awful season, and their fights off the court are more decisive than their play on the court. While Carter wants to make the Richmond cagers into a winning team, he also wants a lot more -- to teach the boys to respect themselves and one another, and that they must excel in the classroom as well as in the gymnasium. Under Carter's guidance, the team turns their losing season around, with the state title a genuine possibility. However, when Carter learns that a number of his players have let their grade point averages slip below 2.3, as mandated in a contract he entered into with the students, he decides to lock the team out of the gym and send them into study hall until their marks improve. Carter's plan quickly becomes a subject of controversy among parents and team boosters, and their objections are soon picked up by the local news media, many of whom are not sympathetic to Carter's belief that his players must have goals beyond college ball or the NBA. Coach Carter also features Rob Brown and Rick Gonzalez as members of the team, and R&B diva Ashanti in her film debut as the girlfriend of one of Carter's players. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Coach Carter

All Critics (150) | Top Critics (40) | Fresh (96) | Rotten (54)

  • This is supposed to be about setting high standards, yet it's full of fudged ultimatums; in the end I couldn't be sure whether its morality was complex or just confused.

    Mar 25, 2008 | Full Review…
  • Samuel L. Jackson shouts, yells, bellows, and screams his way through the fact-inspired film

    Oct 6, 2006 | Full Review…

    Nathan Rabin

    AV Club
    Top Critic
  • Although this is an inspirational genre pic that pushes all the requisite buttons throughout, you canâ(TM)t help but feel that rather than benching the team, director Thomas Carter should have benched a few of those ham-fisted sporting clichà (C)s instead.

    Feb 9, 2006 | Full Review…

    Chris Tilly

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Saved by bursts of energy and inventiveness.

    Jul 5, 2005
  • Over long and deeply manipulative, Coach Carter should nonetheless be praised for its far-from-fashionable celebration of personal advancement through academic achievement.

    Feb 8, 2005 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

    Neil Smith
    Top Critic
  • Carter gives every sports-drama cliche a chance to play. No bad idea is benched.

    Jan 27, 2005 | Rating: 1.5/4

Audience Reviews for Coach Carter

  • Aug 05, 2013
    It's a cliche storyline, but it's captivating, heartfelt and inspirational to some degree. Coach Carter is great blend of basketball and drama and coming-of-age. Lead by the charismatic Samuel L. Jackson, the film's young cast and fluid chemistry makes it a slam dunk. 4.5/5
    Eugene B Super Reviewer
  • Jan 30, 2012
    First, I want to give credit where credit is due. "Coach Carter" benefits in large part from a strong, if very preachy, performance from Samuel L. Jackson, a movie star who takes his simmering discipline in Laurence Fishburne territory as a former All-American coaching at his alma mater and determined to produce upstanding, academically-sound young men on top of a good basketball team. However, the movie falls off a steep precipice after its star. The script, filled with every sports movie cliche there is, takes too long to bring about what is supposed to be an emotional payoff. There are too many scenes and subplots we don't care about, namely because the supporting characters (i.e. - the players and their families) are cut from too familiar a cloth to seem interesting. Rob Brown (from "Finding Forrester") is the strongest of that lackluster group, but he has little chemistry with pop star Ashanti, who gives a wooden performance as his supposedly headstrong girlfriend. It tries to be inspirational, but in the end perhaps it tries a little too hard. A close call but, as LeBron did with Cleveland, take a pass on "Coach Carter".
    Matt F Super Reviewer
  • Jan 09, 2012
    Average sports drama that is predictable, Coach Carter doesn't do anything new or original. I felt that Coach Carter though good, was nothing great, and it was nothing new to the sports genre. The film is the same old, predictable formula. Everything you'd expect happens, despite this; the film manages to be good entertainment. However, the fact that the sports drama genre seems to be comprised of the same old ideas, is a tad annoying. There are good performances here, nothing ever great, but for what it is, it's pretty entertaining. Coach Carter is no different than every other sports drama, and relies on the usual plot elements that you'd expect. The film is average, and if you've seen plenty of sports dramas, its pretty predictable. Nonetheless I liked the film The cast did a good job here, and it had a good plot despite the fact that it's nothing really new. This film will appeal to sports film fans. Coach Carter is entertaining, but like I said, it's the same old tired formula, luckily the cast keeps this film entertaining and watchable. The film relies on cliches but overall it remains constantly dramatic and entertaining like every other sports drama. A good cast, and good plot keeps this film rolling and fun.
    Alex r Super Reviewer
  • Dec 02, 2011
    Another great basketball movie. Samuel L. Jackson and the teenagers are great, really believable. The plot was okay, predictable and cliche at times, but it had very good moments. In the end, Coach Carter is a great movie, but a lot of cliche moments and the Hoosiers feel keep it from being perfect.
    Bradley W Super Reviewer

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