“The Blind Side,” “Remember the Titans” and many other true under-dog stories have reputations for becoming instant classics and being owned by fans as soon as they are released on DVD. Movie watchers better make room on the shelf for Disney’s new classic, “McFarland, USA.”
This film was not only inspirational, but eye-opening to those who have gotten most things handed to them easily.
When high school football coach, Jim White (Kevin Costner), gets fired yet again for aggressive conduct toward a player, he packs up and moves his family to McFarland.
To best describe what their thoughts were when driving into the town, the youngest daughter, Jamie White (Elsie Fisher), said “are we in Mexico?”
Dirt Roads, low riders and crop fields made up the town of McFarland, along with their population of only Latino Americans.
The White family, ironically enough, were an all-white, all-American family. It’s pretty safe to say they did not belong in McFarland. As uncomfortable as they were, the people of McFarland were mostly all very kind and welcoming.
Their hospitality played a huge part in the story. These strangers quickly became friends and McFarland started to feel like home for the White family.
When Jim, or “Blanco,” as the students call him, started the job as the physical education teacher, he noticed how fast some of the boys were.
Switching between scenes of them running from working in the fields at 5 a.m., then running all the way to school, and back to the fields, it made sense they are good runners.
White got inspired and started a cross country team. However, cross country is not the most popular sport, or the most watched. Since the average moviegoer doesn’t know much about cross country, it was easy to feel like the rest of movie would not be very exciting.
However, this was more about the heart of the runners, rather than whether or not they had the correct form. White was tough on them in the beginning because, as shown in his coaching pattern, that’s the way he coaches.
These kids didn’t care if he was yelling at them with a belt in his hand or if he was having a calm conversation with them. They were hard working and know what needs to get done.
It became clear this world of cross country running is new to the school at their first meet.
The boys from the other schools had matching sweatsuits and looked like a small army when they were warming up. The McFarland boys had matching shirts and shorts, but that was about it.
As most small town hero stories go, as the team got better, the support from the town grew bigger and the White’s became more comfortable in their new home.
Following the experience of White’s wife and two daughters gave a different perspective as well. The entire town even threw his oldest daughter, Julie (Morgan Saylor), a quinceañera.
It was easy to fall in love with this little town and hard-working, humble people who live in it. The movie showed a small glimpse into each of the lives of all the boys on the team.
Even though their families did not fully approve of them using time they could be working to run for the school, they were still supportive since family played a very important role in McFarland.
That’s what this movie was. A new perspective of this culture through the eyes of Jim White, his family and the families living there. The boys are fast because they run to school.
They didn’t have cars or bikes or money to take the bus. They work hard because it’s all they know and all they’ve been taught. They care for each other because their families cared for them. Everything these boys learned in their lives helped create the successful team they became.
White doesn’t fully appreciate all that this team has taught him until the end, when he is forced to make a huge decision for the team and his family. It’s easy to get fully invested in the lives of each character.
The incredible true story and phenomenal acting made this feel more like a live documentary.
They even showed all of the characters in real life during the credits and what they are doing today.
This movie can truly change anyone’s perspective by showing them that even the hardest working people don’t win that easily. Being so similar to every underdog story, it’s easy to guess how it ends.
It’s the feelings of inspiration and hope when walking out of the theater that made this must-see film a new classic.