Inspired by the 1987 true story, “McFarland, USA” follows novice runners from McFarland, an economically challenged town in California’s farm-rich Central Valley, as they give their all to build a cross-country team under the direction of Coach Jim White (Kevin Costner), a newcomer to their predominantly Latino high school. Coach White and the McFarland students have a lot to learn about each other but when White starts to realize the boys’ exceptional running ability, things begin to change. Soon something beyond their physical gifts becomes apparent - the power of family relationships, their unwavering commitment to one another and their incredible work ethic. With grit and determination, the unlikely band of runners eventually overcomes the odds to forge not only a championship cross-country team but an enduring legacy as well. Along the way, Coach White realizes that his family finally found a place to call home and both he and his team achieve their own kind of American dream.
Sport films - irregardless of whether they are about football or cross country - will always be popular. Even if people aren’t interested in playing the sport themselves, they still seem to love to watch its story told on the big screen. McFarland, USA is one among numerous sport films to be released in 2015, and is the second starring Kevin Costner in as many years. I really liked this film, and I would gladly watch it again.
McFarland, USA tells the true story of the cross country team at a California Central Valley high school. Made up of predominately Latino students, it is no surprise that the kids find little in common with their new caucasian coach - Jim White (played by Kevin Costner). It is only by working together, that the team stand any chance of overcoming the town’s racial and economic woes. Will cross country be enough to unite the town, or are their struggles too hard?
I must admit, it felt a bit weird to have a sport film that is essentially about a group of boys just running, but they made it entertaining, with characters you actually cared about. We were brought back to a time and place (definitely still occurring in some locations) of racial and economic inequality. The film tells us about an important event in history, so that we may learn from it.
Kevin Costner did a good job leading the cast, and is slowly but surely making his way back into the industry after some questionable role choices. I didn’t know any of the other actors, but they held their own, and I would like to see them in more projects.
We were able to connect with the characters and the story via the funny, yet emotional, dialogue.
The scenery was captured perfectly, and it is sad to see such turmoil amidst such beauty. It is hard to make people running be continually entertaining, but they did it.
Even the soundtrack added to the feel of the film. I’m not overly familiar with Latino music, but it’s good to hear that many have been positively influenced by it and certain songs have been made into music videos to promote the film.
McFarland, USA is yet to be widely released, so there are not many reviews posted online or printed, but there has been interest. Both positive and negative opinions have been posted in online forums, and unfortunately racist comments have been made. Hopefully, when they see this film, they will learn a bit from it.
The film goes a little longer than you would expect for a film that is by Disney - which are generally targeted towards younger audiences. I think it will be well-received by all ages, and it has a message that everyone can learn from. I give it four out of five stars, because it pretty much has most of what I want in a film, without being too aggressive and overwhelming.
You rated this film: 4
Michelle Sommerville - Cinema Paradiso
Classification is to be confirmed by the British Board of Film Classification
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