McFarland, USA

February 20, 2015 3:00 PM

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When I reviewed Ivan Reitman's behind-the-scenes football drama Draft Day last year, I made the observation that pairing star Kevin Costner with any given athletic competition tends to pay crowd-pleasing dividends. And now here comes McFarland, USA to help me double down on the point. The true life tale, directed by Whale Rider's Niki Caro and featuring Costner as the harried coach of an underdog cross country team in California's Central Valley, tells its by-the-bootstraps story so winningly that, predictable though it may be, it's still hard not to find it thoroughly rousing.

It's 1987, and Costner's Jim White finds himself with dwindling options career-wise. A series of altercations over the course of several coaching gigs has left him with the only job that will have him: serving as the extremely overqualified assistant coach for the extremely under-qualified football ...

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