Coach Carter is a 2005 film Based on a True Story about a high-school basketball coach who demanded academic excellence from his students, trying to change the culture of a sports-dominated school. He was so determined that when the team's grades slipped he cancelled the team's games outright, including one with a rival school, despite protests from the other students and the parents. Think Lean on Me but with a basketball team and Samuel L. Jackson.
Tropes featured include:
- Adults Are Useless: Unless they are Coach Carter. The film plays this trope pretty straight, but eventually the parents come around.
- Advertised Extra: Commercials prior to the film be released hyped up Ashanti as being one of the lead actors. She ended up being a really minor character.
- Armor-Piercing Question:
- When Coach Carter berates the team for losing control at a party, one of them asks him that they won the game so what else did he want from them, which makes him realize that they were not understanding the values he was trying to teach them alongside the plays.
- Also:Principal: Your intentions are good, Mr. Carter, but your methods [locking the gym until every player gets at least a 2.3 GPA] are a bit extreme.
Carter: You painted an extreme picture.
Principal: No one expects them to graduate, no one expects them to go to college. So you take away basketball. The one area of their lives where they have some success.
Carter: Yes ma'am.
Principal: And you challenge them academically?
Carter: Yes ma'am.
Principal: And what if they fail?
Carter: Then we've failed.
Principal: Unfortunately, Mr. Carter, both you and I know that for some of these kids, this basketball season will be the highlight of their lives.
Carter: Well, I think that's the problem. Don't you?
- Artistic License History: Several instances mentioned here. But one popular example is Coach Carter being portrayed as having earned a basketball scholarship to Division I school George Mason University. In real life, Carter didn't attend George Mason. He attended George Fox University, a Division III school in Oregon.
- Badass Teacher: Coach Carter. At the start, he wasn't taking any attitude from the team and called them out on their fall-backs, such as using the N-Word, taunting during the game, etc. He managed to whip his team into shape thanks to this and has turned them into successful men at the very end.
- Bittersweet Ending: The team loses the last game, but the solidarity that they gained means more than winning. In addition, many of the team members went on to college and had successful lives.
- Book-Ends: The film begins and ends with Richmond losing a basketball game against St. Francis.
- Class Clown: Worm.
- Delinquents: How the team is viewed, but Carter finds out that they just need some guidance and someone to think that they can do better than what is expected of them.
- Deadpan Snarker: Coach Carter, but that's no surprise.
- The Determinator: Surprisingly, Timo.
- Down to the Last Play
- Dumb Jock: Most of the team except Damien, and especially Junior, who has difficulty reading and hardly shows up to class. They work their butts off to avert this trope in the end.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Junior and his mother.
- Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Averted. Kyra ends up aborting her pregnancy and is not demonised for it.
- Jerk Ass: Most of the team, at first. They get better.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Timo. Sure, he's an arrogant hothead, but most of it is to mask his fear of becoming great.
- Large Ham: Samuel L. Jackson himself.
- Logo Joke: The Paramount logo briefly turns into a version doodled in a notebook.
- Mama Bear: Junior's mother. Justified because her other son lost his life and so she became incredibly protective of Junior as a result.
- Meaningful Echo: "What is your deepest fear?"
- Moral Myopia: Timo admonishes Coach Carter for restraining him aggressively, saying, "Teachers ain't supposed to touch students!"... after he just attempted to knock Carter out.
- Never Say "Die": Renny's fate is never explicitly stated.
- N-Word Privileges: Defied by Coach Carter in a rather eloquent speech.Carter: Nigger is a derogatory term used to insult our ancestors. See, if a white man used it, you'd be ready to fight. Your using it teaches him to use it. You're saying it's cool. Well, it's not cool, and when you're around me, I don't want to hear that shit! Are we clear?
- One Steve Limit: Played with. Coach Carter's full name, in real- and in reel-life, is Kenny Ray Carter. Kenyon's girlfriend Kyra sometimes calls him "Kenny" as a pet name.
- Only Sane Man: Damien. Except when his teammates get him drunk at the Bay Hill girl's party. Kenyon, despite dealing with the burdens of having a pregnant girlfriend, often fits this trope as well.
- Papa Wolf: Coach Carter in regards to his team.
- Save Our Students: Coach Carter serves to get the students to improve their schoolwork in the hopes of better futures.
- Scary Black Man: Samuel Jackson again!
- Serious Business: This is how the school reacts when Carter locks the gym and cancels games. As for Carter, he makes it clear it to them that basketball should not be taken that seriously compared to practicing good values.
- So Proud of You: Despite losing the final match,Coach Carter says this to his team for playing a hard-fought game, doing the impossible, and achieving victory within.
- Sucky School: Unbelievably so, and with a principal to match.
- Token Minority:
- In this film, it's actually a white character on the basketball team, Jason, played by Channing Tatum.
- Aside from Jason Lyle, the Oilers have another white player and an Asian, both of whom don't have any lines. Otherwise, the team consists of African-Americans and Latinos.
- Training from Hell: Carter sure put the team through the grinder. Even the slightest infraction was punishable by several pushups and suicide drills.