‘McFarland, USA’ Tells Heartwarming True Story

Photo courtesy of Gdc graphics, Wikimedia Commons

“McFarland, USA” starring Kevin Costner is an inspirational tale of turning seven students into cross-country state champions. The movie was a bit long with a run-time that exceeded two hours; however, the length did not get in the way of appreciating an uplifting movie inspired by a true story.

The setting is based in a small farm town in McFarland, Calif. during the 1980s. The majority of the students that attend McFarland High School work in the fields nearby as pickers. The underlying message in this film is that being raised in a poverty-stricken town does not exclude the possibility of accomplishing worthwhile feats. As one of the mothers in the film nicely states to her son, “The world doesn’t wait for you.” This encourages him to go out and get what he wants and learn that nothing in the world will be given to him. The idea that one must put in hard work becomes a reoccurring message in the film.

Kevin Costner’s character, Jim White, moves to McFarland after he runs out of job options and has to move there with his family. The rich Mexican culture that was prominent in McFarland in the 1980s is presented in a very clear way. This, in part, is done through scenes such as a Quincenera where the family comes together to celebrate a girl’s coming of age when she turns 15.

Disney did an excellent job in creating this movie. It is truly a “feel good” film. Although it falls into the drama and family movie categories, it still teaches valuable lessons throughout. “McFarland, USA” covers the discrimination that took place towards the Mexican students during that time period. It also teaches about good parenting, loyalty, misconceptions and friendship.

The moments when White first arrives in McFarland and the locals are awkward around him seems effortless and as the film progresses he gains respect from them by coaching their cross-country team. White might have been looked at as an outsider when he first arrived into town, however, by the end of the film he is admired by everyone in the town for the dedication he put into the cross-country team. Disney did a good job of turning an unrecognized underdog story into film that will share their heartwarming story to viewers worldwide.