When Lou finds himself in trouble, Nick and Jacob fire up the hot tub time machine in an attempt to get back to the past. But they inadvertently land in the future with Adam Jr. Now they have to alter the future in order to save the past - which is really the present.
A struggling coach and teacher who has been had to move around for different incidents in his career finally comes to one of the poorest cities in America- McFarland, California. There he discovers buried potential among several high school boys and slowly turns them into championship runners and brings them closer than even he could ever imagine.
"McFarland, USA" builds on an already great year for Hispanics in cinema.
2015 is shaping up to be a great year for Hispanics in the movies! First, the drama "Spare Parts" told the true story of undocumented Mexican-American high school students who entered a college-level competition to build the best underwater robot. Then, 2014's surprise Mexican hit "Buen Dia, Ramon" (a Mexican-German production also known as "Guten Tag, Ramon") brought its unusual feel-good story north of the border. Shortly after that, "A la mala", a 2015 Mexican romantic comedy opened in the U.S. All three of those movies have been reviewed and highly recommended by the Movie Fan community Facebook page and in my IMDb reviews. Enter "McFarland, USA" (PG, 2:09), a movie in the spirit of "Spare Parts", but with its own unique story to tell.
McFarland is a small, primarily Hispanic town in rural south-central California. It's one of the poorest towns in the state. It's a place that people do not choose to go and where they only stay if they have no other options. And that doesn't just apply to the Mexican-American agricultural workers who call McFarland home. Idaho high school football coach Jim White moves his wife Cheryl (Maria Bello) and young daughters Julie (Homeland's Morgan Saylor) and Jamie (Elsie Fisher) to McFarland when he loses his job after accidentally injuring a student in a minor fit of rage. Jim and his family are the only Whites in town and practically the only whites too. They're clearly uncomfortable in their new and unfamiliar surroundings, but Jim just sees McFarland as a weigh station on his journey to professional redemption.
Jim was hired as a science and physical education teacher and assistant football coach, but he soon takes on another challenge. When he notices how fast some of his students run both in class and to and from school (in between working in the fields), he decides he wants to start McFarland High School's first cross-country team. Jim has absolutely no experience with the sport, but he convinces the friendly, but no-nonsense principal (Valente Rodriguez) to back him. It also takes some convincing to get seven boys to take time away from what they see as their lot in life to join his team and the boys' parents to allow them the time to attend practice. Jim is very convincing, but his powers of persuasion go beyond mere words. He shows he cares in a variety of ways and gains the respect of the boys and the support of their families and the townspeople. Soon, Coach White and his runners, Thomas (Carlos Pratts), Johnny (Hector Duran), Victor (Sergio Avelar), Jose (Johnny Ortiz) and the three Diaz brothers, David (Rafael Martinez), Damacio (Michael Aguero) and the overweight, but underestimated Danny (Ramiro Rodriguez), are jelling as a team and seem poised for accomplishments they had never dreamed of, including maybe even leaving McFarland behind. Maybe.
"McFarland, USA" is as formulaic as most sports movies (and the previously mentioned "Spare Parts"), but a good movie is a good movie. This one is well-cast and well-acted, especially by Costner who definitely knows from sports movies (see 1988's "Bull Durham", 1989's "Field of Dreams", 1996's "Tin Cup" and 2014's "Draft Day"). The story unfolds a bit sluggishly, but builds to some moments of tense drama, genuine emotion and life lessons and empathy that the audience is sure to carry home with them. There are some very enjoyable light-hearted moments too. Lastly, the films ends, as all "Based on a True Story" films do, with an obligatory, but especially poignant "where are they now" segment. Whether you see "Spare Parts", or "McFarland, USA", you're in for a treat. "A-"
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