McFarland, USA Blu-ray Review
In 1987, as a last ditch effort, disgruntled coach and teacher, Jim White (Kevin Costner), relocates his family to the small town of McFarland, California. Here the White family find themselves to be minorities in this predominately Hispanic-American community. Seeing the raw talent his students have as they race across the groves and around the track during physical education, he puts together the school’s first cross country team. In this adaptation of the real-life/true-story, MCFARLAND, USA shares the tale of how a cross country team transforms a town.
This is a standard feel-good, Disney, family-friendly film. The entire picture is reminiscent of a formula we’ve seen many times over. As a safely played underdog movie, there are moments that feel vague and without substance. Having established a loose emotional connection with the characters, scenes that could have been powerful and stirring, fell flat. At a triumphant moment, I wished to feel inspired or emotionally invested to cheer along but I was not particularly moved. All of these criticisms aside, there are a series of entertaining elements that I thoroughly enjoyed. A favorite was a dinner scene where the food is piled on Coach White’s plate and his refusal for thirds was deemed an insult. Been there, my friend.
You know, Kevin Costner really should consider doing sports movies (sarcasm!). His take on the tough exterior, hot-tempered Coach White was as expected from the seasoned actor. He did a great job as the out of place ‘blanco’. However, it was hard to sympathize or empathize with his character. This might be a spot on performance for the real-life Coach, but does not always make for good movies. As his better half, Maria Bello was a good yin to his yang, balancing the pair out nicely. The array of supporting characters all did a great job painting the picture of the assorted personalities found in McFarland. Even with the small portion of screen time, Diana Maria Riva might have been my most favorite character as Senora Diaz, mother to three McFarland runners. She was feisty and loving at once, making her an easy person to seek out when on screen.
After watching MCFARLAND, USA, my general laziness was magnified. Witnessing high school students work the fields, attend school, work the fields and top it off with cross country practice made me extremely grateful for all that I have been blessed with in this life. Having been a part of a cross country team back in the day, I recall the grueling distance we’d run each practice, rain or shine. I couldn’t imagine adding back-breaking labor to book end my day. If you are looking for something that is easy and safe to watch with every member of the family, MCFARLAND, USA is worth your time.
Video (2.39.1): Sharp picture, exactly what we come to expect from Blu-Ray & Disney.
Audio (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1): Clear sound complimented with a soothing score.
McFarland Reflections (9:00): This is a snapshot of the real-life McFarland Team and Coach at a picnic with Kevin Costner. It was fascinating to hear the runners reflect on their experiences and hear Kevin Costner’s take on their story. This could have been a longer segment, but I understand that if there was not much more substance, it could have been redundant.
Music Video (3:00): “Juntos” by Juanes. This is a fun song with a nice up-beat tempo.
Inspiriting McFarland (2:00): An uplifting promotional piece about the film.
Deleted and Extended Scenes (8:00): Six deleted or extended scenes that were wisely cut as they did not add anything to the storyline. The Jose deleted scenes were a wise sub-plot to dismiss.