Coach Carter is a provocative movie in two ways: It challenges kids who think sports are more important than academics, and it challenges parents who would prefer a clean basketball film like Hoosiers. This PG-13 film is not Hoosiers: It's planted in today's urban culture rather than 1950s rural Indiana, which means it realistically includes bad language and dirty dancing, as well as scenes with drug dealing (including a murder) and others with sexual overtones.
All that, plus an abortion subplot that takes a wrong turn and the absence of a Christian witness, will lead some parents to just say no. Others, however, will welcome a film with so much emphasis on education, hard work, and discipline that The Boston Globe snarled about it playing "like a public service announcement" for taking academics seriously. The Globe asked, "What 11th grader wants to spend a Friday night being hit with such a blunt instrument?"
Maybe lots: Coach Carter was No. 1 at the box office in its first weekend out. One reason is good game footage shot not from above but from a point guard's eye-level. The largest reason is the terrific performance of Samuel L. Jackson as the owner of a sporting goods store who agrees to coach his high-school team. The movie does have a real-life basis: Ken Carter padlocked the gym early in 1999 when some of his players failed to keep their agreement to have at least a 2.3 grade-point average and not only attend class but sit in the front row, wearing a coat and tie on game days.
For those who see the film and want to know how truthful it is: According to newspaper accounts, the team's grade-point average and class attendance both increased substantially.