When it comes to feel good movies Disney kind of has the market cornered. It seems that every year you can count on two types of movies from Disney, a Nature film on Earth Day and some sports movie about a team or a person who over came adversity and faced extreme odds to win in the end. While the nature films can be unpredictable because of the animals they are filming, the sports movies are pretty much paint by numbers. They start with someone who is under appreciated and who no one believes in, until they find that one person who does. The person molds this team or person and against all odds turns them into winner’s- stop me if you have seen this movie before.
“McFarland U.S.A.” is the latest off the assembly line, a film about a team that no one gave a chance. Jim White (Kevin Costner) is a football coach who after losing his temper during a game is left taking a job no one wants, because no one wants him. He and his wife Cheryl (Maria Bello) take their two daughters Julie (Morgan Saylor) and Jamie (Elsie Fisher) and move to McFarland, California. Where Jim becomes the P.E teacher and assistant football coach, but when things don’t work out on the football field, Jim notices the love of running with some of his students and institutes a cross-country running program. Jim picks seven guys lead by Thomas (Carlos Pratts) to be on the team and through time and patience, he molds them from nobodies to champions, and helps them believe that they all could be more than anyone expected.
If a movie like “Boyhood” is a Rembrandt, then a film like “McFarland U.S.A.” is one of those paintings you see hanging in a local diner. While the Rembrandt is beautiful and truly a work of art, you can still enjoy that painting at the diner. With Costner and Bello leading the way, and Costner doing his quite, not so sure of himself character that he plays so well, there are not many things not to like about this film. That is not saying there aren’t problems because there are. You have a formula that is just a little to predictable, you know it is a steady climb up the hill of greatness, with a valley you must go through, but just when you think it won’t work out, you make it to the top and everything turns out perfect. It is nice when they find that story where maybe they didn’t win it all, because that feels more like life for most people. This film even though it will make you feel good, and have you clapping, feels like it is pandering to the audience. “McFarland U.S.A.” is a movie that is just there, it is not by any means a great movie, but at the same time it is not bad either, it just sort of exists. You can read this review and maybe it makes you not want to see this film, or maybe it does. If you choose to watch it though it will make you feel good, and show you if you believe in yourself anything can happen, and while it does that well, the one thing it doesn’t do is make you feel like you saw something you haven’t seen before.