New review

Samuel L. Jackson as the title character in Coach Carter can't save a drama that sweats predictability.

When the team's former coach retires after another losing season, Ken Carter (Jackson) takes over the misfits of the Richmond High School basketball squad and attempts to show them tough love on the hardwood. The game goes into double overtime, however, as Coach Carter fouls out with overblown sports clichés and underdeveloped storylines.

With Carter leading the team, bringing your "A game" is given a whole new meaning as the disciplinarian lays down the law and makes his players sign contracts promising to work hard for him not only on the court but also in the classroom. The team begins the season with a 9-0 record, but Carter challenges the players physically and mentally, breaking them down before building them back up. This includes his own son, who transfers to Richmond to play b-ball for his father.

Since the team is winning, everything is endurable for Carter and his players until grades start slipping and personalities start clashing. As a man of his word, Carter views the collapse as a contract-breaker and decides that the only way to prepare the young men for their futures is to get them on the honor roll. After the coach locks the players out of the gym, cancels games, and turns gym time into library time, the community and school lash out at Carter despite his logical approach to a failing school system.

   Coach Carter

Dir. Thomas Carter; writ. Mark Schwahn, John Gatins; feat. Samuel L. Jackson, Rob Brown, Rick Gonzalez, Denise Dowse, Ashanti (PG-13)

Although Coach Carter is worthy of praise for putting the "student" in "student athlete," the film drops the ball by not staying focused on this theme. With subplots about pregnant girlfriends, drug-dealing cousins, and other sob stories that are mentioned but not developed, Coach Carter's exceptional message is delivered with little imagination.

In desperate need of some editing for a film of its type (it clocks in at over two hours), Coach Carter depends on inspiration to pull it off the bench, but instead walks into the locker room perspiring from its predictability. Kiko Martinez

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