Friday, February 20, 2015

Movie Review: McFarland, USA - A Moving Story about The American Dream

McFarland, USA is another in a long line of sports themed movies to come from Disney. Disney has such an amazing track record when it comes to sports movies that I will gladly watch every sports themed movie they release. From Cool Runnings to Remember The Titans, Disney keeps bringing wonderful true stories to the silver screen. Will McFarland, USA continue this great tradition of Disney sports themed movies?

Based on a true story, McFarland, USA tells the story of Coach Jim White and how his shortcomings lead him and his family to his final shot at not only teaching but coaching as well. Coach White and his family end up in the small farming community of McFarland in Central California, a town made up of poor, mostly Hispanic laborers and their families. A community that has pretty much give up hope on itself and the people that live there.

After an on-field disagreement with the McFarland High School football coach, Coach White finds himself off the football team and his back literally up against the wall. As the P.E. Teacher he notices that several of his students are fairly fast runners. Coach White thinks that he can start a cross country running team though he himself has no background in the sport.

Jim puts together a ragtag team of seven young boys who lack discipline and respect for one another. Slowly, Coach White puts the team together and opens his mind to what these young boys are going through. They come from homes where they are laborers and work long hours besides going to school and training for the cross country team. One fateful night, Jim saves the life of Thomas, one of his most troubled students.

Coach White even goes out to the field with three of his runners, the Diaz brothers, and sees first hand how difficult a job it is to harvest the fields and then still go to school and to train for the team. Jim is finally opening his eyes to the people around him. The community embraces him and his family.

The team begins to grow closer to one another and they begin to win. They are now the most watched cross country team in the state.

Despite all of the success of the cross country team, Jim finds himself not spending as much time with his family. He even forgets to pick up the cake for his daughter Julie's 15th birthday. Along the way Jim learns about what a quinceanera is and arranges this coming of age party for his daughter and the community comes out to celebrate.

That night Julie is involved in an accident that changes Jim's mind about the community and thinks about something better for himself and his family.

Meanwhile the team makes it to the State Finals. All the while the team believes that their coach is leaving after this race no matter the outcome. What will happen?

Fantastic performances from Kevin Costner and all the boys on the cross country team. This story is about Jim finding himself. This is a story about family and community. This is a story about the American Dream.

McFarland, USA is in theatres now.

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