Rarely is there a television show, much less a movie, that both my 9-year-old and I can agree on. Our preferences are wide and varied as they come, with she leaning more toward Disney Channel and me CNN. It was a complete surprise then to find that we both loved “McFarland, USA” and gave it a thumb’s up.
The Disney movie, which opened in theaters on the 20th, ropes viewers in with
a true story of novice runners from McFarland, an economically challenged town in California’s farm-rich Central Valley. Things change when Coach Jim White (Kevin Costner), a newcomer to the predominately Latino high school, notices the boys’ have exceptional running ability, matched by unwavering commitment to one another and incredible work ethic.
With grit and determination, the unlikely band of runners eventually overcomes the odds to forge not only a championship cross-country team but an enduring legacy as well. Along the way, Coach White realizes, after being bounced from a succession of jobs, that he finally he found a place to call home and both he and his team achieve their own kind of American dream.
The film includes Kevin Costner (“Dances with Wolves,” “Bull Durham,” “3 Days to Kill”), along with a talented cast of veterans and newcomers that includes Maria Bello (“The Cooler,” “Prisoners”), Morgan Saylor (“Homeland”), Martha Higareda (“Street Kings,” “Smokin’ Aces 2: Assassins’ Ball”), Michael Aguero, Sergio Avelar, Hector Duran, Rafael Martinez, Johnny Ortiz, Carlos Pratts (“Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones”), Ramiro Rodriguez, Danny Mora (“The Eye,” Dragon Eyes”), Valente Rodriguez (“George Lopez,” “It’s Complicated”), Vanessa Martinez (“Lone Star,” “Warrior”), Chris Ellis (“The Dark Knight Rises,” “Catch Me If You Can”) and Diana Maria Riva (“Love & Mercy,” “Family Wedding”).
Niki Caro (“Whale Rider,” “North Country”) directs “McFarland, USA,” from a screenplay by Christopher Cleveland & Bettina Gilois and Grant Thompson, and a story by Cleveland & Gilois.
For those looking for an inspirational tale that will have you clapping, maybe even shedding a tear or two, this is a must-see.