Review: ‘McFarland USA’ accomplishes its mission: it makes us care

2015-02-27-McFarland-USA-movie-posterBy MARK VIOLA

“McFarland USA” tells the true story of a down-on-his-luck high school coach and the at-risk students he turned into a championship-contending cross country team. The film pushes all the right buttons and pulls on the right heartstrings to be a compelling and emotional story. And even though is pretty obvious that it’s doing just that, the film does exactly what it sets out to do: get us to care about these characters and their story.

Thanks to a solid lead performance from  Kevin Costner (“Draft Day”), a capable supporting cast and a steady hand from director Nico Caro (“Whale Rider”), the film succeeds where a lesser film probably would have failed. The fact that it tells a true story is the icing that completes this cake.

Sports can provide an avenue to bigger and better opportunities, and that’s not a bad thing. “McFarland USA” does a great job of telling one such story.

The film is rated PG for thematic material, some violence and language.

(This is a shortened version of the full review available in our printed or e-edition papers.)

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