McFarland USA Blu-Ray Review

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In the tradition of Disney sports movies comes “McFarland, USA” based on a true story of underdogs triumphing over tremendous obstacles. This heartwarming drama follows novice runners who strive to build a cross-country team under Coach Jim White (Kevin Costner) in their predominantly Latino high school. Everyone has a lot to learn about each other, but when Coach realizes the boys’ exceptional running ability, things change. Beyond their talent, it’s the power of family, commitment to each other and work ethic that transform them into champions, helping them achieve their own American dream. 

The movie starts out with football, Coach Jim White (Kevin Costner) during a half time pep talk. When Coach White loses his temper with his star player, it results in the lose of his job. Offered a position as asst. football coach and PE/science teacher at McFarland HS in California, Jim White (Kevin Costner) takes his family and possessions and makes the long drive west. The family’s first look at the house and neighborhood including an encounter with the local low rider car club (gang) leaves Jim questioning his decision to relocate to McFarland, California.

An incident during a football game has Coach White sticking up for a player, which gets him removed yet again from football coaching duties. This latest situation along with several others that occur during PE, lead Coach White to see the potential in several of the students and set up a cross country team. A new opportunity for the predominately Latin community of high schoolers, whose primary reason for running is to simply get to their destination. Setting up and training the McFarland HS team is no small feat as family, school and work responsibilities interfere constantly. But along the way, Coach White and the team learn what it takes to be a Cross Country coach and runner, working together to learn how to fit training, compete and win the prelim races and finally the State Championship Meet.

McFarland, USA Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras:

  • McFarland Reflections (HD, 9 minutes): Kevin Costner hosts an on-location round table discussion with the real Jim White and runners from his original team, including Thomas Valles, Johnny Sameniego and David, Damacio and Danny Diaz. Honestly, I wish this one were significantly longer. Without a commentary, there isn’t much insight into the differences between the film and the true story on which it’s based. This featurette provides what few glimpses into the adaptation we get.
  • Deleted & Extended Scenes (HD, 8 minutes): Six hit or miss deleted and extended scenes are available, among them “Jim and Jenks Go Toe-to-Toe,” “Un-Quit,” “Coach Motivates Danny and Victor,” “Jose Is on His Own,” “Dale Takes in Jose” and “Thomas Watches His Father Leave.” None of the scenes would have substantially strengthened the story, but there are some good performance bits nonetheless.
  • Music Video (HD, 3 minutes): “Juntos” by Juanes.
  • Inspiring McFarland (HD, 2 minutes): A brief behind-the-scenes promo.