Movie Review: McFarland, USA

Boy oh boy did I enjoy this movie and trust me, I am not normally a fan of sports movies. I ran Cross Country for six years. Coaches love to show movies about runners. Did you know that there is more than one movie about Steve Prefontaine? Or that there are other successful long distance runners with movies about them besides Steve Prefontaine? Yeah. And I’ve seem more than my fair share because nothing says team bonding like being forced to watch a running movie. But y’all, if this had been the movie I was forced to watch I would not be so jaded.

Let me tell you what makes this movie different from other sports movies. First, the school didn’t have a tradition of winning. Second, the athletes didn’t have to be taught to think of the team instead of themselves, they already mostly played well together.

Now let me tell you what makes this movie different from other running movies. While this team did have a star athlete and the movie gave him some individual plot time the focus was really on the team. I also didn’t hate the star athlete which was a nice plus.

The story was pleasant, warm, fuzzy, and all that jazz. Of course, it was a true story and it was chosen to be made into a movie so it had better have been a quality story.  It dealt with the social issues well. It didn’t really take a side but rather looked at the situation as one human looks at another and nodding in acceptance if not complete understanding. Unlike other true stories of late it didn’t play itself up with effects and dramatic posturing to win awards nor did it use a heavy hand with tension and emotion. It lightly sprinkled drama when needed.

Kevin Costner did a great job. But come on. Did anyone doubt that he would be perfect as a coach with anger issues who really comes into his own when he finds a team that forces him to grow as a person.

The cast in general was just as good. I expected a grounded response from the tried and true in the ranks but the other actors were just as good. I don’t know about the background of the actors but the runners played the parts like they weren’t far removed from the suffering. Whatever their backgrounds they acted with emotional maturity and natural actions.

There was one thing I didn’t like in the movie. It is more of a personal thing. I am just kind of done with seeing the real people with their lives detailed after the story. Especially in this movie the stories were okay to downright anticlimactic and as real people they are less charismatic looking. I know this might make me shallow or something but my warm fuzzy was kind of muddied.

Verdict: Will it have a good wear out effect? Probably not. I doubt it is the type of movie I will be watching countless times with the same level of engagement. And as a production it will easily be eclipsed in my mind. But it was quality and I recommend it. Is it for everyone. No. If you have strong negative opinions about migrant workers then just do us both a favor and avoid this movie. Not a judgement on you and yours. Just don’t like people smacking things I like based on criteria I don’t recognize as legitimate.

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1 Comment

  1. Pingback: 2015 Movies | Under the Dark Moon

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