McFarland USA - This Movie Rocks The Cheese
Dir: Niki Caro
Starring Kevin Costner, Maria Bello
It’s hard to work out which is more generic here – Disney making this kind of inspirational true life-affirming story of triumph over adversity? Or Kevin Costner making this kind of inspirational true life-affirming story of triumph over adversity?
Either way, in its own deeply schmaltzy way, McFaralnd USA more or less works, and its works because of the presence of Costner. The man effortlessly embodies principals like no other actor on screen these days. Here he’s a coach forced to take a job at a going nowhere high school in a poor town with a large population of Mexican field workers. He decides to get some of these “pickers” to form a cross-country running team. Needless to say, bonding, spiritual fulfilment, a resolving of family issues, a sprinkling of young love, a training montage, a message (can’t not have a message!), another training montage, a last minute hitch before the big race, and a big race all ensue. Plus, the American National Anthem, oh, and they win – come on, seriously, not a spoiler. It’s that kind of film.
And it’s that kind of film done very well. You will cry – a little, you will want to cheer – a little. It’s not a major work and it is awash with cheese – one of the kids writes a poem about running designed to leave not a dry eye, Costner has his cathartic moment – literally – during the National Anthem. But it has Costner in its corner and the man really knows how to sell this stuff. It’s no Bull Durham. Hell, it’s not even Draft Day. But it’s Costner in an inspirational sports movie. And some things just work that way.
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