Movie Review: McFarland USA

Director: Niki Caro
Writer: Christopher Cleveland, Bettina Gilois, Grant Thompson
Producer:Mark, Ciardi, Gordon Gray
Cast: Kevin Costner, Maria Bello, Morgan Saylor, Carlos Pratt’s, Elsie Fisher, Johnny Ortiz, Hector Duran, Sergio Avelar, Michael Aguero, Rafael Martinez, Ramiro Rodriguez

Plot: Jim White (Kevin Costner), is a football coach in Idaho and when we first meet him he is berating a player for under performance, the player mouths off and White throws a football shoe with cleats still attached cutting the player. This ends his career there as a football coach and we next see him moving the family to McFarland, California where he is the PE/Science and assistant football coach. When arriving in McFarland he is confronted with culture shock when he realizes that he is in a predominantly Hispanic community. His comments in homeroom about the commonality of the name Diaz does nothing to win over the students and in response to his faux pas the students start calling him “White”. Well the assistant football coach job ends when he and head coach disagree and it is then that Jim White notices how fast the boys run in PE and how they run home to go to work in the fields. This gives Jim an idea and he speaks to the principal about starting a cross country team. Once the principal agrees Jim convinces the Diaz brothers and two of their friends to join the team. But in doing so Jim White realizes that he must get to know the families and culture of the kids in his team.

This is a feel good film and Kevin Costner does a great job portraying Jim White. And the film does a good job portraying the cultural shock first experienced by Jim White and his family and how he had to overcome it if he was going to get the respect of kids who were working in the fields sometimes at the age of six. However, I have one nitpick with the film. In an interview that Jim White gave regarding his work as a coach he mentioned that it was his Christian faith that kept him going and how that he was even a minister that officiated at the wedding of one of his runners. There was no evidence of this in the film at all. And frankly it should be there.

I give this film four stars out of five it is a good family film and I thank WWSorrells for suggesting seeing it.


One Reply to “Movie Review: McFarland USA”

  1. Thanks! I enjoyed the movie as well. You’re right, it was a golden opportunity to highlight a Christian perspective, but no block buster movie organization would ever do that, most likely. However, I believe the Holy Spirit will cause others to research the “real” story just as you did, and it will have a lasting impact on their lives. Great review for a great movie.


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