McFarland, USA

I have avoided it long enough. I can tell you I didn’t want to see McFarland, USA, at all. Cross country is not an inherently exciting sports. It is a bunch of people running long distance. It is just another inspirational Disney sports movie. So the company that brought us Remember The Titans, which was and still is amazing. But they also brought us Invincible (meh), Miracle (meh, as a hockey fan), and Million Dollar Arm (big meh).

What have they done for me lately? That is what I want to know. Not a whole lot. So the prospect of another inspirational true sports story doesn’t exactly get me excited. Couple that with the sports choice, and the fact that Kevin Costner is at the lead, there is just a lot of apathy around this project. Check out my Black or White review about Costner and his recent movies, I don’t need to bring them back up here, but overall he has been on a mostly disappointing trek of films.

As for my final complaint, McFarland, USA. What? Why the second part? What state is this city really in? Did you try at first just “McFarland”? Because that sounds a bit more bold to me. Adding the USA makes it seem like some fake town on a TV show because the writers were feeling lazy.

If you expected pictures of anything but running from this movie, you are surely a dumbass.

Jim White (Costner) is your average white dude football coach. Then he got mad at his players playing like shitty players and threw a cleat at a kid.

Next thing you know, his wife (Maria Bello) and kids are moving! Guess who got fired! (It was Jim). The only job he could find was as an assistant coach in the middle of nowhere, a place called McFarland. Well, he doesn’t last long there either. No, he doesn’t get fired, but after he doesn’t let a kid who was pretty beat up get back on the field during a game, the coach has a hissy fit. So he can keep teaching his random classes, but not be on the team. Gee, well that blows.

Until Jim gets bored and decides to start up a cross country team. Why? Because he is bored and doesn’t like hanging out with his kids. He also notices a lot of these kids can run pretty fast and run home and well, let’s put dos and dos together.

Eventually he gets his team of 7 kids! Ramiro Rodriguez, Carlos Pratts, Johnny Ortiz, Rafael Martinez, Hector Duran, Sergio Avelar and Michael Aguero.

So Jim White, with his white-ness, takes a group of Hispanic boys and turns them into winners! Running winners! And college winners too! (spoiler?)

Also, I feel obligated to include Valente Rodriguez as the principal, because he made me laugh once.

Ah yes, the classic “yep, this is still a picture of people running!” follow up!

I don’t even know why they make movies about people running long distances anymore. Did everyone else not watch Forrest Gump? That dude ran forever and literally cross country. Sure, this was a true story of a coach who ended up winning a lot of cross country meets over a 14 year period and at least all the kids in the movie were real. But it still lacks the wow factor that a movie needs to have.

Inspiration is one thing. If it doesn’t entertain while it inspires, what will a viewer actually get out of it? It doesn’t help that this movie is OVER two hours long with not a whole lot going on. It is mostly a lot of “how do I reach these keeeds” type moments, which at this point is one of the most boring subsets of the genre.

Here is how you teach kids to run good. Are you ready? Well, first they already for the most part have to be good runners before you get them. Buy them some new shoes. And make them practice. A lot. All the time. Make them practice running up and down tiny man made hills and get them used to that. And then? Then you win the things.

It didn’t really feel like the coach in question was great in the film version, again, just a guy who didn’t like where he was and kept his time busy with coaching athletes which is all he really liked to do.

This film features average to okay (at least consistent) from everyone involved and stories you heard many times before in better contexts.

1 out of 4.

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