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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

McFarland USA (aka McFarland) movie review: run and deliver

McFarland USA red light

“Put Kevin Costner in it and you’ve got a sporty Stand and Deliver. The script writes itself.”
I’m “biast” (pro): love Kevin Costner

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

From the moment a crotchety, tough-love high-school football coach rolls into McFarland, California — “one of the poorest towns in America,” populated mostly by immigrant Mexican agricultural workers — and spots some unappreciated talent for running among its students, you will be able to predict absolutely every beat of the story to come. Can this school, which has never even had a crosscountry team before, led by a man with no experiencing coaching track, win the state championship? Will Coach Jim White learn how to be a better person in the process? (Yes, his name is really Mr. White, and this is a true story, so that’s not invented, just perfectly apropos. That the film is aware of this is just about the only bit of self-awareness it has.) A bit of poverty tourism — such as a day picking vegetables in the field just like his students do before and after school — can help with that! Will he neglect his family in unforgivable ways because the team needs him, dammit? Will his wife and daughters forgive him anyway? Gosh darn it, this is America, and when a white man comes to town and tells poor people that anything is possible, it usually is. Somewhere, a studio exec said, “Put Kevin Costner in it and you’ve got a sporty Stand and Deliver. The script writes itself.”

See also my #WhereAreTheWomen rating of McFarland USA (aka McFarland) for its representation of girls and women.

red light 1.5 stars

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McFarland USA (aka McFarland) (2015)
US/Can release: Feb 20 2015
UK/Ire release: Sep 25 2015

MPAA: rated PG for thematic material, some violence and language
BBFC: rated PG (mild bad language, brief injury detail)

viewed on my iPad

official site | IMDb
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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