‘McFarland USA’: On the right track


Sports movies starring Kevin Costner: It could be a category on “Jeopardy.”

But that’s not really a bad thing. While the Costner oeuvre has its share of titles devoted to athletic themes, he hasn’t made many bad ones. He has a solidity and an honesty on screen that make him nearly perfect for stories about both character and the lack thereof.

In “McFarland USA”, he plays the aptly named Jim White. He’s a winning high-school football coach fighting s losing battle with his temper and his career. He winds up exiled to the only job he can land, as assistant coach at a poor school in a poverty-stricken rural community, McFarland, Ca.

It’s a less than ideal fit and he’s quickly banished to extra phys-ed teaching duty because he can’t get along with the head coach. Which is where he discovers that the local Hispanic students have both natural running talent and a startlingly determined work ethic. He forms a cross-country team at the school, despite the fact that he barely has enough runners for a team, that cross country was only recently sanctioned as a statewide competitive sport – and that he’s never coached the sport before.

This review continues on my website.

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