These three words pretty much guarantee I’ll buy a ticket to the cineplex, every time:

Disney sports movie.

The studio has a knack for finding some of the most inspirational—and often unlikely—sports stories out there, most of them with a theme of overcoming adversity.

If you wrote these stories from scratch, as fiction, they’d all seem hackneyed, corny, too good to be true. But the fact that they are true is what makes them so entertaining.

Remember the Titans. The Rookie. Secretariat. Invincible. Glory Road. Million Dollar Arm.

I wouldn’t be such a sucker for these movies if they weren’t the real deal. But there are few things better than a person or a team rising from the ashes, beating the odds, and coming out on top. Even all the clichés in that last sentence are forgivable in the context of real people in the real world. Makes it easy to embrace the good vibes.

Disney has found another such story with McFarland, USA, a true tall tale that’s so improbable you’d have to see it to believe it.

The main problem? They kept getting the villain all wrong.

At a tiny high school in the mostly Hispanic southern California town of McFarland, California, Coach Jim White (played by Kevin Costner) starts a cross country program from scratch. He takes a handful of boys—all from impoverished families of migrant workers from nearby Mexico—and, in a matter of months, puts together a cross country team that wins the 1987 state championship. And then they go on to win a string of state titles, becoming a dynasty in the sport.

The movie repeatedly portrays the opposing teams and coaches as the villains. Everyone they competed against—every runner, every ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

McFarland, USA
Our Rating
2½ Stars - Fair
Average Rating
(24 user ratings)ADD YOURSHelp
Mpaa Rating
PG (For thematic material, some violence, and language.)
Directed By
Niki Caro
Run Time
2 hours 9 minutes
Kevin Costner, Maria Bello, Ramiro Rodriguez
Theatre Release
February 20, 2015 by Disney
Browse All Movie Reviews By: