McFarland, USA- -
A track coach in a small California town transforms a team of athletes into championship contenders.
by Ginger Shelby
Immigration is a hot topic of discussion in the media. Niki Caro has weighed in on this issue with an all-star cast that includes Kevin Costner, Maria Bello, and Ramiro Rodriguez. The story revolves around a small town in Southern California that is home to a large population of immigrant farm workers. McFarland, USA is based on the real life story of a group of teens whose background gives them the courage and strength to make a difference in the world by forcing the world to look at them differently. This family movie review thinks that this is an inspirational film about overcoming struggles through determination and courage. However, it might not be right for everyone because it deals with some tough situations and highly charged emotions. It is a realistic portrayal of the real world lives of the characters.
McFarland is a real town in a small town in the San Joaquin valley of California. It is based on the story of a teacher, Jim White, who noticed that some of his students had a particular talent for running. This inspired him to start a cross-country team. He had no experience as a cross-country coach, but he had the same heart as the team that he would build and transform into champions. The team members were the children of immigrant farm workers. A life of hard work and struggle had given them exceptional strength and endurance. White uses this natural ability to teach them to work as a team and go for their dreams.
The story is inspirational and gives the viewer a glimpse in the world of migrant workers. It shows their human side and breaks many stereotypes, which may have been what the director was trying to accomplish. The immigrant workers are portrayed as strong, dedicated people with strong family values. They are portrayed as generous and willing to share what little they have with the others. The boys learn to be proud of themselves and their heritage. However, this movie also portrays the realities of the lives of the immigrant families too. There are themes of teen pregnancy and some roughness towards the team during play. There is no direct violence shown on the screen, but there is reference to it through the use of blood, and an apparently abusive father of one of the boys. There is also a disturbing scene where one of the characters stands on a bridge and contemplates suicide. A friend talks him down. There are also a few instances of profanity and a few racial slurs. The boys are threatened by a street gang, which creates an off-screen fight scene, but nothing is shown. There is a scene that includes alcohol use by adults in a social setting. The MPAA rated this movie a PG, but this family guide to the movies considers it closer to the PG-13 end of the spectrum, due to the presence of implied violence, racial slurs, and references to adult themes.
Overall, this movie is an inspiring movie that is about drawing on one’s inner strength to achieve your dreams. Immigrants are often talked about as if they are “issues” or “objects” in the media. What this movie contributes to the issue is the ability to looking into the real lives of a group of people behind the headlines. This is a worthwhile movie, but only with the consideration for the real life situations that were discussed in this review. This movie may change the way American sees their growing immigrant population.