MOVIE REVIEW: “McFARLAND U.S.A.”

Running Time: 2 hours and 9 minutes

Rated PG

Directed By: Niki Caro

Grade: B+

Starring:

Kevin Costner as Jim White

Maria Bello as Cheryl White

Morgan Saylor as Julie White

Elsie Fisher as Jamie White

Nothing American Dream About This Place

After an unfortunate incident during a high school football game, Jim White finds himself moving his family from Idaho to McFarland, California. Jim, his wife, and daughters are less than thrilled when they see their new home and community. The situation is worse when Jim finds out that he will be the very overqualified assistant football coach to another losing team. As his family gets settled in their new environment, Jim sees that a few of the students in his Physical Education class have natural ability to run long distances. Jim approaches Principal Camillo with the idea of starting a track team. Since he has no experience coaching a track team nor has he ever been on a track team, no one thought that success would follow. As Jim helps the seven young men realize that they are capable of achieving more than a life of field work, Jim also learns some valuable life lessons about the meaning of family.

This is a farming town. These are good kids, smart kids, they just need a chance at a better future.

As far as ‘based on true stories’ go, McFarland USA follows the sports/drama genre formula. The difference with this film lies in the director’s focus on the power of family/community while capitalizing on Kevin Costner’s natural ability to lead the cast instead of digging too deep into the negative aspects of the true story. I’ve seen Costner act in movies about baseball, golf, and football but the addition of a track team film to his play-list was a welcome sight. The director of photography, Terry Stacey, captures some of the most beautiful rural California scenes while using the natural lighting to his advantage. The story is well-written and perfectly paced with a heart-warming conclusion. Overall, McFarland USA is another Disney family film that should be enjoyed by audiences of all ages. The cast and crew truly finishes in first place. Please run into the theater to see this one!            ~Movie Buffette

About Laura McDonald

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