In the tradition of Disney sports movies comes “McFarland, USA” based on a true story of underdogs triumphing over tremendous obstacles. This heartwarming drama follows novice runners who strive to build a cross-country team under Coach Jim White (Kevin Costner) in their predominantly Latino high school. Everyone has a lot to learn about each other, but when Coach realizes the boys’ exceptional running ability, things change. Beyond their talent, it’s the power of family, commitment to each other and work ethic that transform them into champions — helping them achieve their own American dream.
This movie has an incredible cast, including Kevin Costner (“Dances with Wolves,” “The Untouchables”), Maria Bello (“A History of Violence,” “Prisoners”), Carlos Pratts (“Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones,” “Out of the Fire”), Morgan Saylor (TV’s “Homeland,” “Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant”), along with director, Niki Caro (“Whale Rider”)
We loved watching this movie with our 14-year-old and 8-year-old daughters. It was a great choice for movie night, and the story proved so inspiring as to kindle a desire to try out for her school’s cross country team in the fall – she runs nearly every day now to train. I really liked the way the film embraced the cultural aspect of the town and celebrated minority heritage as something that was of value, and not just a window dressing. This is such a heart warming movie – you really travel on the journey with Coach White. When he and his family first movie to McFarland, Coach White has a lot of preconceptions. As he works with the team, you see them become a true community and family.
Too often we see films where there are minority groups or towns struggling, and a white guy comes in to save the day – this isn’t that kind of movie. It was really about how McFarland changed Coach White, and this was a message that I loved my girls receiving! The resiliency of the human spirit is alive and well in MCFARLAND USA. It’s a wonderful, inspirational true story that your family will love. In terms of age levels, I thought this was fine for my 8 year old – there are a few instances of violence but it isn’t graphic, and I felt that it was completely fine. I really loved it and this is a movie will watch together as a family over and over.
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