Coach Carter is a 2005 American biographical sports drama film directed by Thomas Carter, starring Samuel L. Jackson in the lead role. It also starred Rob Brown, Channing Tatum, Debbi Morgan and R&B singer Ashanti .

It is based on a true story of Richmond High School basketball coach Ken Carter who made headlines in 1999 for benching his undefeated high school basketball team due to poor academic results.

The story was conceived from a screenplay co-written by John Gatins and Mark Schwahn, who created the TV series "One Tree Hill."

The film was released on January 14, 2005 and is a co-production between the motion picture studios of MTV Films & Tollin/Robbins Productions.

Plot[edit | edit source]

Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about
the entire movie.

In 1999, Ken Carter takes over the head coaching job for the basketball team at his former high school Richmond, having played on the team himself and earning records. Carter quickly sees that the athletes are rude & disrespectful and are in need of discipline.

He hands the players individual contracts, instructing them to attend all of their classes, sit in the front row of those classes, wear dress shirts and ties on game days, refer to everyone (players and coach alike) as "sir", and maintain a 2.3 (C+) grade point average, among other requirements. Carter also asks the school staff for progress reports on the players' grades and attendance. He teaches them to play a disciplined brand of basketball.

In the gym, Carter is faced by hostility from the players and one of them, Timo Cruz attempts to punch him but he stops him by putting his arm on his back and pushing him against the wall. Cruz quits the team in anger along with two other players, the previous season top scorers. Carter warns them that, if they are late for practice, then they will run suicides (a type of sprint touching the court's lines), and, if they act disrespectful to him, then they will do push-ups. He then orders them to do a series of suicides for one hour to improve their conditioning.

Later, Carter's son, Damien, decides to join the team, after quitting the private school St. Francis. Shocked, Carter asks why he did this, and Damien tells him that he wants to play for his father. Carter reluctantly agrees but holds his son to a higher set of standards than the rest of the team.

Kenyon Stone struggles to come to terms with his girlfriend, Kyra who is pregnant, unsure if he can juggle basketball and prepare for college as well. Later at a game, Cruz watches the team win and then asks Carter what he has to do to get back on to the team. Carter agrees but on one condition: he needs to do 2,500 push-ups and 1,000 suicides before Friday.

At a school dance, Stone talks to his girlfriend about the baby and says he does not want to live that way. He asks her what she's going to do after the baby is born and believes that she would not know what to do. She angrily tells him that she is having the baby.

During a practice, Carter tells Cruz to give up because it is impossible to complete all of the push ups and suicides by Friday. When the day arrives, Cruz has not been able to finish but the team help him by doing some of his push-ups and suicides, getting him back on the team.

On a game day, Carter asks Cruz what his biggest fear is, and Cruz is confused by the question. Later, the team won the game. Carter learns that one particular student does not attend classes: Junior Battle. Later in practice, Carter talks to Battle, who does not seem to be worried about it, so Carter suspends him for games. After a confrontation, Battle leaves the team in anger.

Afterwards, Battle's mother asks Carter to let him back on the team. Carter says that he needs to hear that from Battle himself. Battle apologizes for what he did and is allowed back on the team, but is told that he had to do 1,000 push-ups and 1,000 suicides to make up for it.

The team goes on to have an undefeated record, eventually winning the Bay Hill tournament. The team go off to a party hosted in a girl's house, without the knowledge of her parents. After looking for the players to celebrate, Carter goes to the house and orders his team to leave.

In the bus going home, Carter criticizes his team for their reckless behavior, while Cruz points out that they won the tournament and already gave Carter what he wanted: winners. Back at school, Carter discovers that the progress reports show that some of the students have been skipping classes and failing academically.

Enraged, Carter locks the gym and sends his players to the library to study with their teachers. This upsets the players, especially Cruz, who quits the team again, stating that he had tried so hard to do all those push-ups and suicides for Carter, to get back on the team in the first place.

Later, Carter is criticized by parents and academic personnel alike for his decision to lock down the gym. The school board eventually confronts Carter, who explains how he wants to give his team the opportunity and option for further education so that they won't resort to crime, asserting that achieving a sound education is more important for the students than winning basketball games.

One night, someone throws a brick through Carter's store window for not letting the team play. The next day, a man pulls up next to Carter's car at a stoplight then proceeds to spit on his window, taunting him about his decision to lock down the gym. Carter became enraged and tries to hit him, but Damien breaks up the fight.

Later that evening, while Cruz is hanging out with his drug dealer cousin Renny, he saves three of his teammates from being harassed by some gangsters, but when the drug deal goes wrong, his cousin is shot dead, leaving Cruz distraught. Cruz goes to the Carters' house and begs to be allowed back on the team. Carter comforts him and allows it.

The board holds an assembly about the lockout. Carter states that he wants to prevent his players from resorting to crime. A man suggests that Carter should be removed from the basketball coach position which the school refuses which then leads him to suggest that they should end the lockout.

Carter promises that he will quit if the lockout is ended. Principal Garrison and the chairman vote to not end the lockout, but the other board members (four) vote in favor of ending it. Carter is shocked to find his players in the gym with desks and teachers, studying and working to bring their grades back up.

The athletes decide to fulfill Carter's original intention of them pursuing academic achievement before continuing to play their next game. Cruz answers Carter's question about fear and thanks him for saving his life.

They work hard and eventually raise their grade point average to a point that fulfills their contracts. Later, Stone talks to Kyra about the baby. She reveals that she had an abortion and tells Kenyon that he should go play basketball in college.

The Oilers eventually end up competing in the state CIF high school playoffs, but come up short to St. Francis by just 2 points after a game winning three-point shot by rivals Ty Crane. Nevertheless, Carter is proud of his players accomplishing their goals of having a proper education.

The film's epilogue displays a series of graphics stating that a number of players went on to attend college and play basketball, such as Kenyon, Lyle, Junior, "Worm", Cruz, and Damian.

Cast[edit | edit source]

Production[edit | edit source]

The filming locations for "Coach Carter" include Long Beach, California and Los Angeles, California. The filming dates took place on January 16, 2004.

When the real Ken Carter was asked who should play him in the movie, he wrote down one name: Samuel L. Jackson. Carter was on set every day as a consultant & said that Jackson's portrayal of him is 98.5% accurate.

Before making the film, the actors had to go through a rigorous three-week basketball camp, training up to twelve hours a day. The actors practiced in the gym for more than five hours a day.

It was the film debut for actor Channing Tatum. Before making the movie, Tatum had never played basketball, so he had to have individual training with the coaches to get up to speed with the other actors.

Choreographer Mark Ellis turned down working on "Friday Night Lights" to do this film. Previously, he had worked on a lot of football movies and wanted to do a basketball movie.

The actors had to learn about 70 plays for this movie. The plays had a lot of passes and picks to highlight the theme of teamwork and the gameplay in was tailored to fit each of the actors' strengths & weaknesses.

"Coach Carter" was the first sports movie to use 3-D digital mapping technology. It was used to help choreograph the plays and to figure out where to put the cameras.

Box Office[edit | edit source]

"Coach Carter" premiered in cinemas on January 14, 2005 in wide release throughout the United States.

During that weekend, the film opened in 1st place grossing $24.2 million from 2,524 locations, beating out Meet the Fockers ($19.3 million). The film's revenue dropped by 24% in its second week of release, earning $8,015,331.

For that particular weekend, the film slipped to 5th place with a slightly higher theater count at 2,574. The thriller film Hide and Seek opened in 1st place with $21,959,233 in box office business.

During its final week in release, the film opened in 61st place grossing a marginal $26,554 in revenue. For that weekend period, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy opened in 1st place with $21,103,203 in box office receipts.

"Coach Carter" went on to top out domestically at $67,264,877 in total ticket sales through an initial 16-week theatrical run. For 2005 as a whole, the film would cumulatively rank at a box office performance position of 36.

Critical Reception[edit | edit source]

"Coach Carter" received generally positive reviews from critics.

On Rotten Tomatoes , the film has a rating of 65% (based on 145 reviews) with an average score of 6.1 out of 10.

The site's consensus reads: "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."

On Metacritic (which assigns a weighted average), the film has a score of 57 out of 100, based on 36 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".

Roger Ebert gave the film a three star rating and said that Samuel L. Jackson "is arguing against the anti-intellectual message that success for young black males is better sought in the worlds of rap and sports than in the classroom."

The San Francisco Gate reviewed the film, saying, "Hollywood has turned the story of an exceptional Bay Area basketball coach into a lively but standard-issue sports movie. "Coach Carter," about the former Richmond High coach, features bursts of humor and electrifying energy offset by speechifying and a dud of a subplot."

Peter Travers from Rolling Stone gave the film a two and a half star rating, saying, "Despite its punishing length (135 minutes), this afternoon-TV special trying to pass as a real movie earns an extra half solely for Samuel L. Jackson, who brings his usual fire to the role of Ken Carter — a real-life high-school basketball coach who benched his team for getting lousy grades. Director Thomas Carter gives every sports-drama cliche a chance to play. No bad idea is benched."

Accolades[edit | edit source]

"Coach Carter" was nominated and won several awards in 2005–06.

Award Category Nominee Result
2005 BET Awards Best Actor Samuel L. Jackson Nominated
2005 Black Movie Awards Outstanding Achievement in Directing Thomas Carter Won
Outstanding Motion Picture David Gale, Brian Robbins, Michael Tollin Nominated
Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role Samuel L. Jackson Nominated
Black Reel Awards of 2006 Best Director Thomas Carter Won
Best Actor Samuel L. Jackson Nominated
Best Breakthrough Performance Ashanti Nominated
Best Film David Gale, Brian Robbins, Michael Tollin Nominated
ESPY Awards 2005 Best Sports Movie ———— Nominated
2005 37th NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture Samuel L. Jackson Won
Outstanding Directing in a Feature Film/Television Movie Thomas Carter Nominated
Outstanding Motion Picture ———— Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Ashanti Nominated
2005 MTV Movie Awards Breakthrough Female Ashanti Nominated
2006 38th People's Choice Awards Favorite Movie Drama ———— Nominated
2005 Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Actor: Drama Samuel L. Jackson Nominated
Choice Movie Breakout Performance - Female Ashanti Nominated
Choice Movie: Drama ———— Nominated
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