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Coach Carter

Movies | This PG-13 film is not Hoosiers: It's planted in today's urban culture rather than 1950s rural Indiana

Issue: "Bush: Hail to the chief," Jan. 29, 2005

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.

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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.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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