Starring: Kevin Costner, Maria Bello, Ramiro Rodriguez, Carlos Pratts, Johnny Ortiz, Rafael Martinez, Hector Duran, Sergio Avelar, Morgan Saylor, Elsie Fisher
Directed By: Niki Caro
Written By: Grant Thompson, Chris Cleveland, Bettina Gilois
Rating: PG (US) Running Time: 2 hr 8 min
Martin Scorsese and gangster flicks, Spielberg or Cameron with sci-fi, Kevin Costner and sports dramas. Just a few classic film combinations that will always deliver the goods. Especially when you’re telling a true story about an underdog team of Latino cross-country runners, from the little known county of McFarland, USA.
As your standard Disney sports drama, based on true events, McFarland is very by the numbers. It covers the basic events, and exploits every emotional element this story has to offer. It’s predictable, moving, and is competently acted, written, and directed. There really is nothing that wrong with this film, other than it’s the kind of feel good underdog story we’ve all seen hundreds of times before. And it does occasionally overdo the melodrama and get a little cheesy.
But what can we do? We love underdog stories, and you’d have to be pretty cynical not to be touched by this tale of hard-working young American kids, and the communities and families that support them. McFarland isn’t confrontational and doesn’t wade into the ongoing immigration debate going on in the US, but simply asks you to take a deeper look at the families that might be affected by policies drafted in Washington. It takes a look at the Latino community living in the US, and gives us a sense of their character, while also highlighting the strengths we all share.
If you like sports dramas starring Kevin Costner, then you’re going to like this film! Or, if you’re just looking for an uplifting movie to put you in a good mood, this film is recommended. McFarland, USA is rated PG and is suitable for the entire family.
The movie is decently shot, but a theater visit isn’t required to enjoy this film. A HD screening at home on any device you like will service this film well enough.
Best Moment: << spoiler >>
As I said, everyone loves an underdog story, and McFarland has two! The least athletic runner, Danny (Ramiro Rodriguez) ends the final state championship race in 5th place within his team (he’s usually last), helping them secure enough points for the win! A true MVP!