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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The message is very pro school, not just pro sports.
Violence & Scariness
Shooting and a character is killed.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
References to teen pregnancy and abortion.
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Strong language for a PG 13, including the n-word.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
There are references to drug dealing.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Coach Carter has some mature material, including an out-of-wedlock teen pregnancy and a discussion of abortion. There is some strong language, but the movie includes a very worthwhile discussion of the n-word and whether it is appropriate for African-Americans to use a word that would make them angry if used by a white person. The film is frank about the kinds of violence inner-city neighborhoods are subjected to, including shooting. A character is killed. There is some material relating to drug-dealing. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Based on a true story, this movie compellingly takes the underdog-team-that-comes-from-behind story a step further. Viewers love these kinds of movies because they (1) learn the importance of teamwork, (2) learn the importance of discipline and of respect for themselves and each other, (3) are galvanized by an inspiring leader, or, even better, (4) all of the above. Carter shows his player that the biggest obstacle is their own fear of trying for more than they have. "Starting today, you will act like winners, play like winners, and, most of all, you will be winners." This seems simple and straightforward enough unless you are a sports fan. Or unless you are the kind of person who calls himself a "realist" and thinks these kids are not worth trying to save. Their principal falls into that category. She figures that they are not going to graduate anyway, so the best she can do is give them one great experience they can hold onto for the rest of their lives.
For Carter, this was not about a winning season. It was about a winning life. He wanted his team to qualify for college scholarships. And he wanted them to learn discipline, teamwork, and self-respect. Jackson is terrific, as always, and his talent to mesmerize an audience makes him a great choice to play a coach who can give hope to people who gave up a long time ago. Just the way he says, "Sir," insisting and inspiring his team to call him "Sir" as well, tells you everything about his character and his relationship to the players. The young cast members in Coach Carter are more sure of themselves shooting hoops than they are showing emotion, but Jackson holds the screen so well that he gives them extra focus and presence.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.