On Bluray and Digital HD this week from director Niki Caro and Disney comes a town that transforms into “McFarland, USA.”
This film tells the story of Jim White (Kevin Costner), an athletics coach who in 1987 seems to have anger issues. Being fired from a teaching job he is forced to uproot his family Cheryl (Maria Bello) and daughters Julie (Morgan Saylor) and Jamie (Elsie Fisher).
Driving into the dusty little town of McFarland, California, the family’s thoughts immediately turn to disaster. It doesn’t take long before he is one again butting heads with another coach at the new school.
Trying to find a way to make their new home work, White decides to start a cross country team. He immediately finds runners in Danny Diaz (Ramiro Rodriguez), Thomas Valles (Carlos Pratts), Jose Cardenas (Johnny Ortiz, David Diaz (Rafael Martinez), Johnny Sameniego (Hector Duran) and Victor (Sergio Avelar).
Together both Coach and runners learn the ways of the track meets and the sneers from the other teams yet get closer and closer to become a true team in every sense of the word. As the community rallies behind their team, the White’s discover a welcoming town.
Together they fight to become champions!
Costner as White has once again embraced a sport film. He’s about covered everything else so cross country must have seemed the logical next step. The one thing about Costner that I can expect is consistency and I get it here as well. He jumps into the role and delivers believability and that’s important when telling a true story. He does it well, but he’s also done it before.
The boys all put in solid performances as well. Portraying real people there were moments, especially at the beach where there was believability and I appreciated that. They were strong, fun-loving and family oriented. Each learning that life has many paths and you can either keep your head down or look up to see what else is out there. Several of the real runners did exactly that as you will see in the film’s ending credits.
I definitely will give a shout out to Diana Maria Riva as Senora Diaz. She cracked me up big time and at the same time reminded us all what it like to be a supportive Mom who believes in the dreams of her children.
Other cast include: Michael Aguero as Damacio Diaz, Omar Leyva as Senior Diaz, Valente Rodriguez a Principal Camillo, and Danny Mora as Sammy Rosaldo.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give “McFarland, USA” three tubs of popcorn out of five. I think this film is geared toward the cross country runners and their families but the lessons of perseverance and loyalty are for everyone. Costner once again brings a sport’s history to the forefront turning in a solid performance with the help of a cast that has earned much respect.
Everyone has problems, lots of people have a father that doesn’t think education is the answer, everyone knows a Mom who takes no guff, everyone has that person who quits when things get to rough, everyone has experienced economic difficulty and Disney covers it all.
Disney has found a formula here and since the success of MILLION DOLLAR ARM now it is cross-country’s turn to get some Disney love. There is no doubt that “McFarland, USA” is a charming, feel good film.
The Bluray includes bonus features with McFarland Reflections – join Kevin Costner with Coach Jim White and members of the 1987 cross-country team as they look back on the bonds they gorged and the opportunities they were given, Juntos Music Video performed by Juanes, Inspiring McFarland and see the strength and perseverance that brought a community together, along with deleted and extended scenes.
In the end — champions can come from anywhere!