Sunday, February 22, 2015

Movie Review - McFarland

If you want to see an uplifting movie with humor see McFarland. It is a film that will most likely not win any awards - unfortunately. Kevin Costner as Jim White, a coach, who due to several "unfortunate" encounters with school administrators at better schools, ends up at a high school in a small California town where the population is mainly Latino field workers. Needless to say his wife Cheryl (Maria Bello) and daughters Julie (Morgan Saylor) and Jamie (Elsie Fisher) are not thrilled with this new position.

No spoiler here, Coach White sees untapped talent in some of the student athletes and starts a cross country team. This is where the film shows its strength and true colors. Unlike some movies where White would be shown as the savior who rides into a poor underserved town, rescuing the students, turning their lives around, and changing the entire town, this movie holds its pace showing that both White and the students need help.

Unlike other movies that patronize Latinos, this movie weaves the Latino culture into the story showing the strength of the family, devotion, work ethic, and faith among all the generations. White (whose name almost seems too obvious) is like a duck out of water. But Costner rises to the occasion bringing his nurturing personality and sense of humor to the role of a flawed but talented mentor and coach. 

He and his family are surprised at what they find in the towns people after a rather unfortunate first impression. Likewise the local parents and students find they can trust this new coach who brings changes to an otherwise very static community.

The film rises above all the cliches that could have ruined it. It is based the real story and stayed true to that story.  It is well worth the 128 minutes. Oh, and make sure you stay for the credits, that is the rest of the story.

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