1987, the year I graduated high school. The year Kevin Costner’s No Way Out and The Untouchables were block busters in the theaters. It was the year NASA’s Challenger exploded after take off, a postage stamp was 24 cents and you could bring home a dozen eggs for 65 cents. Margaret Thatcher was elected at the British Prime Minister and The Simpson’s debuted. It was also the year a group of teenage boys from McFarland USA overcame incredible odds and, led by Coach John White, earned the title of California’s First State Cross Country Champions.
McFarland, an economically challenged community, has a football team, most of the high school’s youth follow their families footsteps and become “pickers” or serve prison sentences. It’s a predominately Latino community who sticks together and isn’t too welcoming to outsiders.
When the White family packs up from Idaho and moves to McFarland, they learn there are cultural differences. They question whether they have what it takes to endure a community and people they aren’t accustomed to.
On February 5, I attended a private screening at Disney Studios of the soon to be released, McFarland USA, starring Kevin Costner.
While waiting in the lobby, Myrah of Mama Couponista and I talked about our time living in Miami. The one thing we both agreed on and remembered so fondly was how Miami is such a melting pot of culture. Miami is a community of fellowship and support. McFarland, embraces that culture.
McFarland USA surprised me. I’m not big on any sport–though I did run short distance track in high school. It isn’t a documentary, but rather the story of hope, courage, triumph and family. It’s about the essence of survival embracing the spirit of determination, breaking the comfort zone of what you know and finding a dream you never knew existed.
There is so much about McFarland USA that I love. There is humor, there is sadness and there is a moment, when you’re on the edge of your seat, fist pumping the air and yelling, “Go, Danny, Go!”
Rated PG, this is a movie for the entire family.
While you won’t be moving to McFarland USA, chances are, after watching McFarland USA, you’ll be wishing you were.
Kevin Costner is the big name in this movie, and while he shines. Meeting him made him even more of a hero to me because he is genuine. No matter who it was we interviewed, Costner’s name came up and compliments flowed. Niki Caro, the Director of McFarland, USA had this to say about him:
He’s one of the great actors. He’s certainly a bona fide movie star. If that wasn’t enough he’s a really good director. He’s a mountain of a man,in every way. And yet there’s nobody more humble. I couldn’t have wished for a better partner. Collaborator. His skill, his experience, his wisdom and just his decency as a man. Breathtaking.
The talents of Maria Bello, Morgan Saylor, Hector Duran, Johnny Ortiz, Carlos Pratts, Rafael Martinez, Sergio Avelar, Michael Aguero and Rodrigo Ramirez will have you asking where will you see them again?
Niki Caro talks about how Kevin Costner was a mentor to the new comers:
He quietly mentored them and offered advice if they wanted it but for the boys, listening to Costner’s stories and watching movies with him in his trailer was a highlight. They felt so comfortable with the famous movie star that they even nicknamed him “KC.”
McFarland USA Synopsis:
Based on the 1987 true story, “McFarland, USA” follows novice runners from McFarland, an economically challenged town in California’s farm-rich Central Valley, as they give their all to build a cross-country team under Coach Jim White (Kevin Costner), a newcomer to their predominantly Latino high school. Coach White and the McFarland students have a lot to learn about each other but when White starts to realize the boys’ exceptional running ability, things begin to change. Soon something beyond their physical gifts becomes apparent—the power of family relationships, their unwavering commitment to one another and their incredible work ethic. With grit and determination, the unlikely band of runners eventually overcomes the odds to forge not only a championship cross-country team but an enduring legacy as well. Along the way, Coach White realizes that his family finally found a place to call home and both he and his team achieve their own kind of American dream.
Director, Niki Caro, knows a thing or two about the American dream, she is from New Zealand and a parent. She shares her observations:
My family is more important to me than any of this. What I observe in this country is how parents are so into their kids here. And it’s so amazing. It’s so amazing. I think this movie shows us and gives us a really accurate reminder of the lengths to which parents will go to give their children a better life. Nothing is more inspiring than that. And nothing is more American than that.
Perhaps it is Kevin Costner himself who sums up this great movie:
There is nothing more American than parents wanting more for their children.