McFarland USA Movie ReviewCategory: Movies
This inspiring movie is based on the true story of Coach Jim White (Kevin Costner) who moves his family to the small farming community of McFarland, California. White has had a hard time with his coaching tactics and has been fired from several different schools. When his options run low, he takes a job teaching and coaching football at the McFarland High School, but things for White, his family, and the entire town change in a way no one every imagined.
The White family is not used to their new surroundings. The predominant language in McFarland is Spanish. As a matter of fact, when they are driving into the town the younger of the two White daughters asks if they are in Mexico. For people outside of California and who are not familiar with Central Valley where agriculture is king, this might sound like a strange question.
Once again Jim White is fired from his job coaching football, but they still need him as a teacher, so he stays vowing to his family that they will move as soon as they can. They are all like fish out of water, but the people quickly welcome them into their community and McFarland becomes their home.
Jim White astutely realizes the “pickers” can run – and run and run, and fast! These kids get up at dawn, work in the fields, run to school, go back and work, then start again the next morning. When a light bulb goes on in his head, he decides to start a cross-country team and enlists the boys – some would call it coercion – into joining the team. True, White has never coached a cross-country team and he isn’t a runner, but he knows these boys have what it takes. They have stamina, the ability, and most important of all, they have heart.
McFarland is described as “one of the poorest towns in America,” but the people there are friendly, happy, and eager to help each other. The town’s sign says, “Welcome to McFarland – Fruit Bowl of California.” And the town’s seal says it is “The heartbeat of agriculture.”
While the boys work hard in the fields and at school and commit to adding training to their daily lives, White dedicates himself to guiding them to win the state championship. Along the way the family makes true friends and for the first time they feel they have found a place they belong. They have found their home.
This movie is cute, inspiring, and definitely uplifting. Jim White takes a group of hard-working Latino boys and turns them into a winning team and the town into a respectable place, which is something no one there ever thought they would be. They show the other schools that they don’t need to be rich to be a success. They have the heart and the will. They are the true epitome of The American Dream. They work hard and succeed.
Kevin Costner lived in Visalia, California for a while when he was growing up. “I’ve told people before that my favorite year in high school was my junior year in Visalia. I just loved the Central Valley,” Costner said. “I found myself hunting and fishing in the mountains. I loved the fields. But in McFarland, there are a lot of migrant farm workers who vastly influenced the area and suddenly the town sort of grew up. I think our movie has attempted to portray that culture and I hope the people of McFarland will be happy with it.”
Costner turns in another amazing performance. Audiences will feel his deep desire to help these kids. Maria Bello, who plays his wife, and the young performers in the film are amazing.
If you saw the 2004 movie Miracle, about the 1980 American Olympic hockey team, you will get the same feeling of triumph with McFarland, USA. This movie, however, adds a little something extra. It adds the feeling of community, compassion, and caring. The tagline tells it all: Champions can come from anywhere.
McFarland, USA is rated PG for thematic material, some violence and language.
About the Author
Francine Brokaw has been covering all aspects of the entertainment business for 20 years. She also writes about technology and has been a travel writer for the past 12 years. She has been published in national and international newspapers and magazines as well as internet websites. She has written her own book, Beyond the Red Carpet The World of Entertainment Journalists, from Sourced Media Books.
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