Cary, NC — Kevin Costner, once again returning to the genre he’s most known for, stars in McFarland, USA, a true story based on the cross country high school team that defied all the odds and expectations and became a genuine threat to win the California championship.
A Winning Experience
If that sounds familiar, well, that’s because it is. McFarland, USA hits all the beats you’ve seen a million times before but, thanks to the always watchable Costner and a good old fashioned underdog story, McFarland, USA proves to be a winning experience.
Costner Brings His A-Game
I like Kevin Costner. Actually, I really like Kevin Costner. I love the way he just embodies “America.” I’m especially grateful that he’s had a bit of a resurgence as of late starring in Man of Steel, Draft Day, and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, just to name a few. Not all of them are winners of course, but still I like watching the guy work.
In McFarland, USA he plays a stubborn coach who gets the crazy idea to form a cross country team in the poor community where he just moved with his family. It’s familiar territory for both him and the audience, but Costner really believes in these kinds of stories–true stories about people who worked hard and did everything they could to succeed.
And, because he believes in it, you go right along with him. Heck, there’s a scene in the movie where Costner talks to his on-screen daughter during her 15th birthday party, and he begins to choke up. It’s not a huge moment in the film and, as a whole, it’s pretty slight, but doggone if I didn’t find myself choking up right along with him.
It helps that Costner has a real chemistry with the kids in the film. Throughout, the team rags on Costner quite a bit, all of it harmless of course, but there is a lot of time spent on scenes showing them all bonding. That goes a long way in getting you to care about what happens to these kids.
Loses Steam When Not Focused on Sports
On the flip side, McFarland, USA is just a tad too long, running a little over two hours. Anytime the film focuses on anything other than sports, it immediately begins to drag. Most of those scenes involve Costner and his family, and, while they aren’t entirely pointless, it’s just less time we get to spend with the team.
Uplifting and Worth a Look
Still, I find myself hard pressed to not like a Kevin Costner movie, much less one involving sports. The fact of the matter is that he does everything he can to sell this movie…and it works. McFarland, USA is an entertaining and uplifting movie, made all the more credible by Costner.
Definitely worth a look.