Monday, June 22, 2009

Day 126: Coach Carter (2005) - Rank 3.5/5


Regardless of whether you attended a private or public high school for your secondary education, there is one constant that remains true: teachers love to show you movies about inspirational teachers. Teacher is having a lousy day? Then sit back and watch "Stand and Deliver," "Mr. Holland's Opus," "Dead Poets Society," "Friday Night Lights," umm... "Matilda" or..."Strangers with Candy" I'm proud to admit that I've never fallen prey to this easy out for a free day since I began teaching, because I find it both an ironic and hypocritical action. After all, shouldn't good teachers be, well, teaching rather than showing movies about good teachers?

Anyway, I found through a conversation that my friend Pigeon had also watched this for the first time on the same evening I did (a strange coincidence). I think his brief statement sums it up fairly well: "It's the best of the 'inspirational, poor black kids to victory' movies." Ah, I concur. "Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit's" Whoopi Goldberg is easily trumped by Samuel L. Jackson. In fact, in the absence of Jackson starring as the titular character, the film would have been a modest bit of treacle that would have passed under the radar, despite a decent storyline. Jackson has an incredible knack for adding the right amount of tongue-in-cheek hamminess to all of his roles, whether it be on a subtle level as was the case in the film, or in a blatantly obvious manner in B-grade films like "Snakes on a Plane" (which is still on my "kinda need to see" list).

Jackson fits into the role of a basketball coach that turns a misanthropic, crime-ridden team into undefeated champions as if he were wearing an expensive suit. The supporting cast is mediocre, many of their performances forgettable upon reflection. The tale of the team's rise to victory and Coach Carter's hard lockdown on their time on the court in engrossing, though it does feel overdramatized at times, making the overall product more cloying than moving. Still, if I were in class, I'd find the film a far superior alternative to homework. And no, I won't be showing it in my classroom any time soon.

Watch the Trailer

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