'McFarland, USA' goes the distance to earn viewers' love

February 19, 2015 5:37 PM

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Going in, everyone knows that "McFarland, USA" is intended to be heartwarming and inspirational. The filmmakers know you see them coming, and so they know they have only one play available to them - to come right at you. Kevin Costner plays a legendary high school track coach, and so right off we know there's going to be the scene in which the quiet man stands up and makes a speech, telling the team how much he loves them.

The film's mission is to make you care about this coach, this family, this team and this town, and "McFarland" does it. The surprise is that it does so methodically, expertly, never pushing you into feeling something unearned, and never making the soundtrack do the work. Go into this movie unwilling...

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