Checking Off The Boxes Of A Disney Sports Movie In 'McFarland, USA'

February 19, 2015 10:03 PM

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Checking Off The Boxes Of A Disney Sports Movie In 'McFarland, USA'

As long as hearts still beat in America, there will be a place for the big, gooey Disney sports movie. Like its forefathers Remember The Titans, Miracle, and countless others, McFarland, USA is a based-on-truth myth in which a maverick coach leads a ragtag team of misfits to victory against posh, polished enemies, touching the essence of the American dream in the process. There is a grand tradition at work here, a lifeblood that runs through mid-century entertainment like Knute Rockne—All American and Kevin Costner's baseball movies alike. All McFarland, USA has to do is notch another feel-good win, another whoop of camaraderie for countrymen at the edge of their physical limits. This it does, with an admirable economy.

McFarland is a depressed, majority Latino central California desert town. High school students are either at work in the farms or halfway to prison (which, in a particularly nihilistic urban planning decision, is located across the street from the school). It's 1987, the year loose-cannon gym teache...

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