The American Dream? It’s a simple formula. Own a big beautiful home in a nice part of town. Drive a late model car with all the features. Have a few kids and save for their college. Travel somewhere exotic and adventurous with the family for vacation every year. But the American Dream is not one-size fits all. One man’s dream might be another man’s nightmare.
McFarland USA is the latest release from Disney and challenges your thinking about hard work, career success, and realizing your true potential. Based on the true story of the 1987 McFarland High School cross country team, McFarland USA stars Kevin Costner as Coach Jim White, a high school football coach who takes the only teaching job he can get after yet another poor decision. He lands in a tiny home in a less-than desirable farming town in California’s farm-rich Central Valley and before his family can even settle in he’s already making plans for his next job. But when Coach White takes note of the natural running ability of some of his new students in the predominately Latino high school he determines to start a cross country team. The misfit gang of runners along with their novice coach train and compete their way to new found success and the spirit of McFarland, California is forever changed.
My roots are in this part of the world. I grew up in Bakersfield, just 45 minutes away from McFarland, so I was eager for this movie’s release and to see how they portrayed the people and places I know all too well.
This movie is great for families with older kids, say 10+. It can spark important conversations about discrimination and stereotyping. Coach White teaches an vital lesson to the audience when he makes an effort to walk a mile in the shoes of his athletes. I also love how the film makers elevated the importance of the family. You’ll love the Diaz brothers and their family. Their father is the strong silent type and their mother is the no-nonsense glue that holds them all together.
Go see this movie! You’ll feel like the fifth member of the White family as they learn to embrace their circumstances and begin to assimilate into the culture of McFarland. Plus, it’s an underdog story. You can’t help but cheer for this rag tag group of runners and their families. It is a very satisfying two hours from beginning to end.
McFARLAND, USA is rated PG and is now playing in theatres everywhere!