Director: Niki Caro
Cast: Kevin Costner, Maria Bello, Ramiro Rodriguez
“McFarland, USA” started to look like yet another sports team film where a coach turns around a bunch of losers into winners.
And just then I was wondering this to be sports underdogs repeat, the genuineness of the story, the pitch perfect performance by Kevin Costner and some lovely locales and grand natural settings started to win me in. Then onwards it was a ride that made me cry, smile and imagine that as a human race for us nothing is impossible and there are many who scale beyond so many hardships to achieve what a majority can’t even think of.
The story begins in August 1987 in Boise, Idaho, when a high school football coach named Jim White — that name will end up being very convenient to the story — gets fired from his job after throwing a shoe in the direction of a snotty kid who’s talking back to him, accidentally bloodying him. The coach, with a history of anger issues, has to move to McFarland, California, because the only school that’s ready to hire him is there, in the hinterlands of America.
McFarland seems a farming town with a predominantly Mexican-American population. At a restaurant, Costner tries to order a burger, but can’t get one. Same day the family encounters a group of young men cruising in their cars and believes they’re dangerous.
At the new school, where Costner is made an assistant coach of the football team, sees that the head coach is a idiot who can’t win but is cruel enough to send a kid with a concussion back onto the field. Natural to Costner, they argue and he is off team.
But White (Costner) being White comes up with a different idea after seeing the boys. These boys, who spend all their non-school hours picking in the fields for their parents, could make great runners is what he believes and promises to create a great cross-country team.
Thinking and believing are things in mind; creation is actual on the ground. Especially in a setting like this where winning has never been seen before. “Nobody wins around here, White,” he’s told. The best runner in the bunch, Thomas (Carlos Pratts), is a troubled teen with a troubled father. To add to issues families are reluctant because coaching takes hours that is generally used in helping families earn their bread. But Costner as in his brilliant compassionate ways persists. He eats with them, runs with them till he can and works with them on the fields. Not only he buys respect of his wards, he also earns it from their families.
For Costner, this was familiar territory. If there was one actor who could have done this, it was he. He could have pulled this off in sleep. After watching this, its tough to imagine anyone else do it the way Costner pulls it off.
If you keep wondering what’s climax, am sure you have not seen many sports underdog films. It’s normal that they end up being champion. The climax is amazing when we see what happens to White and his team in later years. It might make you cry again but that’s ok, all’s good for a few happy moments.