MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Directed by Niki Caro. Starring Kevin Costner, Maria Bello.
As many youth leaders know, one of the best ways to get teens to look at the world with the eyes of Christ is to take the group on a mission trip to work with folks of a different culture. The rural youth work at an urban mission, the city kids repair homes in the hollows of Appalachia, and families travel together to work with the poor in Haiti. After a week or two in volunteer service, the mission team discovers that they have made new friends with persons they would not have had an opportunity to meet under normal circumstances. You go out to serve others and return home realizing that you were blessed by the people you came to serve.
McFarland, USA tells the true-life story of Jim White (Costner), a high school coach with a history of anger management issues, who accepts a job in 1987 as a physical education teacher at a high school in McFarland, California. Shortly upon arriving in town, White discovers that the students are primarily Mexican immigrants who come to school in the morning after helping their parents pick produce as farm workers. Jim and his wife and daughters (Bello, Morgan Saylor and Elsie Fisher) find themselves in an awkward place with a Latino lifestyle that is new to them. Coach White’s nickname is “Blanco”; he has his work cut out for him.
The beauty of this positive family film is shown in the way that the locals show hospitality and kindness to these newcomers. The McFarland football team doesn’t stand a chance of becoming first-rate, but White decides to organize a cross-country team after observing the speed of some of the boys. He will have to work hard to persuade the families to let the boys run; every hour at practice is an hour away from working in the field. Coach White realizes that he needs to work alongside his students to gain the trust of their parents. If he succeeds in forming a winning team, he might also create the opportunity for his runners to go to college.
This film tells a simple and somewhat predictable story, but it does it with humor and grace. The boys are charming and the movie pulls the heartstrings in a natural fashion. Kevin Costner is perfectly cast as the gruff coach, and the soundtrack is filled with joyous Latino music.
McFarland, USA is an old-fashioned Disney film that families can watch together and not worry about language or inappropriate adult themes. It is a great two hours of comfort food.
Five halos: A positive sports film that celebrates family and cultural diversity.
Two pitchforks: Mildly racist comments; brief scenes of violence; a terrible title.
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Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
COMMENTS! Do you have comments about this movie or movie review?
E-mail comments. (Comments will be posted to our web site.)
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