Friday, February 20, 2015
Filled with feel-good sports moments and genuinely honest portrayals by its cast, McFarland USA sprints past the competition.
Review by Matt CummingsThere's a good chance you've never heard of Disney's McFarland USA, and yet you would be mistaken if such a lack of marketing didn't mean it wasn't completely worthy of your time. This drama about high school runners is a pitch-perfect, uplifting tale that separates itself from the common feel-good tripe, demanding your attention and inspiring you with its gigantic heart. Million Dollar Arm, which also emphasizes race/cultural relations and people of various backgrounds learning to work together; but McFarland gets all the ingredients right with a thoroughly likable cast of veterans and newer talent, all shepherded by capable direction in the Oscar-nominated Niki Caro. She realizes the mix is nothing new, but aligns all of her pieces into a competent and thoroughly inspiring tale that matures just like Jim and his team. She succeeds in giving many of her characters a breath of life that goes far beyond typical stereotypes, with Jim as the emotional center. It's his show, but the runners contribute as well with substantial moments of their own. And yet, it's never preachy, relying instead on situations to tell itself, as the boys battle their parents' preconceptions about their futures and their coach who's as different as anyone they've ever met. Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.