"Introducing Old Fashioned Values to a New Generation"
What You Need To Know:
COACH CARTER moralizes very clearly. One student is redeemed from a life of crime to follow the coach’s straight-as-an-arrow approach. With his doctrine of old fashioned respect and determination, Coach Carter is a figure that Bible-believing Christians would especially enjoy. What’s disappointing, then, are the movie’s final moments, where a teenager decides to have an abortion. Her announcement is out of character with the rest of the movie, so it sends terribly mixed signals. There is also constant foul language in this urban drama. Too bad, because this dramatic, occasionally uplifting, funny movie could have been a great choice for mature teenagers.
(BB, C, Pa, LLL, V, S, N, AA, DD, M) Strong moral viewpoint that values personal and communal responsibility, law, hard work, honor, education, and respecting others, and a character experiences redemption in an obvious positive change, with a couple of disappointing immoral choices, including an abortion; over 80 obscenities (many strong but no ‘f’ words) and about 10 profanities; drug dealer shot in street but nothing shown, teenagers threatened with gun, some pushing and shoving, and vandals break a storefront window; teenager becomes pregnant out of wedlock and plans to have the baby but finally aborts it, cohabitation, some innuendo, and hints at other high schoolers fornicating; upper male nudity during basketball practice and in pool, plus high school girls in underwear jumping into pool; alcohol at teen party; character sells drugs off-screen and is seen receiving payment; and, teenager decides to abort her baby, high school students sneak out at night for a party (rebuked), students disrespect teacher (rebuked), and vandalism (rebuked).
COACH CARTER is an entertaining morality lesson that sends great messages until the final moments. Samuel L. Jackson plays Ken Carter, a store owner in urban San Francisco who takes a job coaching an undisciplined high school basketball team. It’s dramatic, it’s funny, and it feels true to life.
“Undisciplined” is a polite term for his team. These teenagers never go to class, one of them runs drug deals, and no one can tell them what to do. Concerned about the state of his neighborhood, as well as his culture, Coach Carter trains the boys to work hard. He requires them to keep a 2.3 grade point average, attend all their classes, wear a coat and tie on game days, and do community service. Plus, he accepts none of their disrespectful, illegal or plain dumb behavior.
After cleaning up their ways, the team finally starts to win, and they go on a huge undefeated streak. Winning isn’t enough, however. When their academic performance starts to decline again, Coach Carter shows how serious he is by locking the team out of two games, causing them to forfeit and lose their first games of the season. The players, the school and the community revolt, but Coach Carter is driven by conviction instead of popularity and stands firm.
These students are punks at the beginning of the movie, but Carter’s unswerving dedication to honor and discipline are a good example for them, and they change their ways. One player in particular goes from a sordid life of selling drugs to cleaning up his language and attending college. The coach wants to get as many of his students into college as he can, because he knows that it is their best shot at avoiding jail. He cites a statistic which says that one out of every three men in their local area are arrested.
COACH CARTER does not hesitate to moralize. It makes each character’s decision crystal clear, black and white, so that the audience does not miss anything. This is good because the characters are making positive decisions that reflect a biblical worldview. With his doctrine of old fashioned respect and determination, Coach Carter is a figure that Bible-believing Christians would especially enjoy.
What’s disappointing about the movie, then, is that the teenage mom-to-be, played by R&B singer Ashanti, decides to have an abortion. Her decision is out of character for the movie, as it is made hastily and without any notice, and it contradicts everything she has said earlier about the importance of having the baby. Throughout the movie, the audience sees the characters agonizing over doing the right thing, but the decision to abort sends a strange mixed message that is nothing like the rest of the movie.
Other content problems in COACH CARTER include constant foul language, mostly ‘s’ words, some drug references, alcohol at a teen party, and some sexual innuendo. The movie would be even more entertaining if it could have cut down on its 136-minute running time. Still, it’s often exciting, and it manages to be as entertaining as it is edifying. Without the foul language and the abortion decision at the end, COACH CARTER would have been an excellent movie choice for mature teenagers.