So, I decided that it is high time that I get myself to the theaters to check out a couple of the summer blockbusters currently being shown, Mad Max: Fury Road and San Andreas. I’m really looking forward to an experience for both movies. But for the time being, I have another review to write. So I take to the internet to find a 2015 movie that I missed from the theaters to review for the site. At the end of my search, I found two movies, Taken 3 and McFarland USA. Out of the two… I’ll take McFarland, USA to save myself when it comes to my very fragile sanity.
So… Talk about a big heaping slice of Americana. This movie was exactly what I was expecting it to be. It has been a long time since I have seen a movie like this. It is a movie geared straight towards Middle America sympathies. A feel good, inspirational sports movie that a teacher can put on during a middle/high school field trip to kill a couple of hours. I might be coming across a little hard on this movie in those past couple of sentences considering what many think of the film, but it truly is an apt description. McFarland, USA is by every definition of the word, safe.
The story goes that a football coach named Jim White (Kevin Costner), has to move his family from Boise Idaho to a small town in California called McFarland after an altercation with one of his former players. McFarland is a mostly Hispanic town and it becomes apparent quick that things just aren’t working out for this town.
After White is kicked off the football team as an assistant coach (a weird pattern) for refusing to play an injured player, he notices a couple of boys named Johnny and Victor (Hector Durann and Sergio Avelar) who did not make the football team… But are REALLY fast. He decides to put together a cross-country team and recruits a ragtag group of students to put together a team despite all those wicked naysayers telling them that they are just stupid for even trying to do anything. So will the team magically gain the teamwork and courage to win the state championship?… Well what the hell do you think? Either way, on with the review.
The movie looks beautiful. Massive props to the cinematography because DAMN this film will make love to your eyeballs. I will give credit to director Niko Caro, he sure knows how to capture that small town, Americana, Disney inspired film. Granted, this movie does kind of abuse the concept of ‘the sunset’, but at least it looks beautiful, colorful, and vibrant. Mix this with the classic Disney musical score and you have that classic small town feel that will make you so inspired that you will want to go out, grab a bunch of misfit kids, and start some sort of school event against all the odds to win the championship, BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY to grow in life lessons.
The Story Will Leave You Satisfied
There is a reason that this movie exists. Believe me, I get it. I have not decided to hate all things shmaltzy and sentimental. I am not that cold-hearted yet. This is that safe sports film that will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It is a movie that is a must see for any high school cross-country team to watch together, bond as a team, and make parallels with your life, and the life of the kids on the screen.
This film has a purpose and if you are in the need for a good pick me up, you may need to kill 2 hours and are watching ABC Family, or maybe you just need to watch an easy to watch sports movie… McFarland USA will leave you feeling satisfied.
Should we add in another ‘Time to list the clichés!’ checklist… Yep it is:
A misunderstood coach travels to a new town: Check
This place is far from the norm the coach is used to: Check
The coach sees something in kids that nobody else could possibly see EVER: Check
The coach assembles a ragtag group of little rapscallions to compete: Check
(Insert various stereotypes of characters here)
EVERYONE tells them they are stupid for trying to start a fucking high school sports group: Check (Seriously, this cliché is fucking stupid)
Against all odds (but in reality it wasn’t that surprising), this little group of misfits wins the championship and all of their dreams come true: Check
Yep it is all here, to the T. Usually I see a little deviation, but no. This movie is The Mighty Ducks on a track instead of an ice rink. I can still get behind allowing a cliché movie to come out once in a while. You need the ‘movie X for the new generation.’ I get it and it is an easy sell. But dammit! I just wanted a little originality out of these movies. If anything, try to pretend that you aren’t shamelessly ripping off a formula verbatim.
With the exception of people who are seeking out sports movie or kids who are involved in cross-country in high school, this movie is going to disappear into nothingness and quick, to join the likes of Invincible and The Rookie. There just isn’t enough substance to the movie to make it interesting or even memorable. If you want to make a memorable sports movie, look towards movies like The Mighty Ducks, The Replacements, or Little Giants. You can have your inspirational underdog story, but you got to give us a little something extra if you don’t want to get lost in the shuffle.
It isn’t even memorable in a bad way, it was just a movie that the majority of the people will see and say… ‘That was decent… I have no need to see it again.’ It is so bland that it almost immediately escapes the viewers mind as quickly as it is taken in by the eyes. I will not be surprised if a lot of people read this review and say… Wait, that came out in 2015?
I understand that this review has been 99% snark… I know… But all in all, I really did not hate this film. I did not like it… But it wasn’t terrible. It is what it is and that is inspirational, feel good, sports movie for a handful of teenagers who it will relate to the most. It is decent, but all in all… It is forgettable.
Final Score 2.5/5
Thank you for reading and as always if you enjoyed this review, please like and subscribe for more. Come back Thursday for a review of the new summer blockbuster San Andreas, Saturday for The Nerdiest Talk Show on Earth, and Sunday for Mad Max: Fury Road.