McFarland, USA (also known as McFarland) is a 2015 American sports drama film directed by Niki Caro, produced by Mark Ciardi and Gordon Gray, written by Christopher Cleveland, Bettina Gilois and Grant Thompson with music composed by Antônio Pinto. The film was co-produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Mayhem Pictures. Based on the true story of a 1987 cross country team from a mainly Latino high school in McFarland, California, the film stars Kevin Costner as Jim White, the school's coach, who leads the team to win a state championship. The film also stars Maria Bello and Morgan Saylor.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Niki Caro|
|Music by||Antônio Pinto|
|Edited by||David Coulson|
|Distributed by||Walt Disney Studios|
|Box office||$45.7 million|
McFarland, USA was released on February 20, 2015, received positive reviews from critics, and grossed over $45 million. The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on June 2, 2015 by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.
In 1987 football coach, Jim White, loses his job after he loses his temper and accidentally injures a team player in the locker room. He and his family relocate for his new job at McFarland High School in McFarland, California, which is predominantly Latino. The rest of his family has trouble adjusting to the Hispanic neighborhood and lament being unable to move to Bakersfield.
White is first put as assistant football coach, but ultimately loses his football coaching status when he pulls a player out, fearing he would be badly injured on the field.
Discovering that some of his students are strong runners, he has the school's principal authorize cross-country as a sport and organises an all-boys team. Its seven members have little hope for their future, specifically Tomas Vallez, due to hardships with his father. White's devotion to the team leads to his own hardships with his family, including forgetting to pick up his daughter Julie's Birthday cake.
After a few regional competitions, the team wins its first race. Shortly after, the Diaz brothers are taken off the team by their father, who wants them to work for his team of field pickers instead. In response, White convinces them to come to meets and races at earlier and later times of the day, to which they finally address him as "coach". White's wife Cheryl organizes a tamale and car wash sale with the rest of the neighborhood to raise money for new uniforms, where the family and the neighborhood become better acquainted.
Eventually, the McFarland team competes in and wins their first State race, and White takes them to the beach to celebrate. White also makes amends with Julie by throwing her a quinceañera with help from the neighbors, though it goes wrong when Julie is taken out on "parade" and the group is attacked by street punks.
Jim is offered a full-time position at Palo Alto, upsetting Tomas. Cheryl implores him to continue to be there for the McFarland team and their friends in the neighborhood. The day of the state championships comes, and thanks to White's rigorous training and encouragement, McFarland come in first, while White also turns down the Palo Alto position in favor of McFarland.
Under White's guidance, the team becomes outstandingly successful, winning nine state titles over the years. All the members of the first team become the first in their families to go to college or into military careers. Almost all members continue to attend the practices that Jim White held for successive school cross country teams even after graduation from college. White continues teaching and coaching in McFarland.
- Kevin Costner as Jim White
- Maria Bello as Cheryl White
- Morgan Saylor as Julie White
- Carlos Pratts as Thomas Valles
- Elsie Fisher as Jamie White
- Johnny Ortiz as Jose Cardenas
- Hector Duran as Johnny Sameniego
- Sergio Avelar as Victor Puentes
- Michael Aguero as Damacio Diaz
- Rafael Martinez as David Diaz
- Ramiro Rodriguez as Danny Diaz
- Diana-Maria Riva as Señora Diaz
- Vanessa Martínez as Maria Marsol
- Martha Higareda as Lupe
- Valente Rodriguez as Principal Camillo
- Chris Ellis as Coach Jenks
- Eloy Casados as Dale Padilla
- Natalia Cordova-Buckley as Señora Valles
William Broyles Jr. was hired to write the screenplay for the film, which was in development since 2004. Negotiations for Kevin Costner to star were finalized in July 2013. Principal photography took place in Camarillo, California, and many of McFarland's residents were extras in the movie.
In an interview, Jim White noted that while the film was based on a true story, it was not a documentary. He acknowledged that not everything in the film was factual, but that "it's still an enjoyable movie... it turned out fine." Some of the more notable differences included:
- Jim White had not been fired from numerous prior teaching jobs before starting at McFarland. He started teaching in the McFarland school district after graduating from Pepperdine University in 1964. During that time, McFarland was predominantly white in terms of demographics. White taught different subjects at numerous grade levels (fifth grade science, seventh and eighth grade woodshop, and PE) before starting his coaching career in 1980. White retired in 2003 after 23 years of coaching.
- White did not establish the cross-country team at the school, but instead restarted it after it had been dropped for a year. He rebuilt both the boys' and girls' cross-country teams, despite only the boys' team being featured in the film. Similarly, White took both teams to the California coast beach at Cayucos during the 1985 (not 1987) season.
- Not all runners from the 1987 team are featured in the film. Director Niki Caro wanted to feature more family in the film, so Luis Partida, who was on the team, was replaced with David Diaz, Damacio and Danny's brother. David, however, graduated the year before McFarland's first state title win.
- Jim White and his wife Cheryl have three daughters, not two. Their oldest daughter, Tami, does not appear in the film. Julie and Jami are also portrayed relatively younger than their real ages at the time of McFarland's first state title win in 1987 (all three were in college during that time).
- Danny Diaz was not overweight as a child. He was, however, the seventh person on the team and still instrumental to its 1987 state title win.
The film was previously slated for a November 21, 2014 release, under the title McFarland, but was pushed back to February 20, 2015 and given a new title. The film was released in Canada under its original title, McFarland.
McFarland, USA was released on DVD and Blu-ray on February 20,2015 by [Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment].
|McFarland, USA (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)|
|Film score by |
|Released||February 17, 2015|
|Antonio Pinto chronology|
|2.||"The Real McFarlands"||Antônio Pinto||2:39|
|3.||"Me and Baby Brother"||War||3:26|
|4.||"Let's Hit It Again"||Antônio Pinto||1:54|
|5.||"Lord's Prayer"||Antônio Pinto||3:48|
|6.||"Watermelon Man"||Mongo Santamaria||2:26|
|7.||"Barbie Bike"||Antônio Pinto||1:45|
|9.||"Convoy to State"||Antônio Pinto||2:05|
|10.||"Whittier Blvd."||Thee Midniters||2:28|
|12.||"This Ain't Golf"||Antônio Pinto||2:10|
|13.||"That's Not Danny Diaz"||Antônio Pinto||7:52|
|14.||"McFarland Theme"||Antônio Pinto||2:43|
|15.||"América"||Los Tigres del Norte||3:02|
McFarland, USA grossed $44.5 million in North America and $1.2 million in other territories for a total gross of $45.7 million.
The film opened in North America on February 20, 2015 and earned $11 million in its opening weekend, finishing 4th at the box office.
The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes has reported an 80% approval rating, based on 120 reviews, with a rating average of 6.7/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Disney's inspirational sports drama formula might be old hat, but McFarland, USA proves it still works — especially with a talented director and eminently likable star in the mix." On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating, the film has a score of 60 out of 100, based on 32 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". In CinemaScore polls conducted during the opening weekend, cinema audiences gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.
Stephen Farber of The Hollywood Reporter gave a positive review, writing that "While the beats of the story are often stock, the picture benefits from sensitive direction by New Zealander Niki Caro and from a most appealing performance by Kevin Costner." James Rocchi of The Wrap wrote "A feel-good movie that earns all those good feelings, McFarland USA might be running on a predetermined track, but the heart it shows along the journey is what makes it a winner." A.O. Scott of The New York Times described the film favorably as "a slick and safe Disney version of a fascinating and complicated reality", and that "Mr. Costner, with his knack for grumpy understatement, manages both to dominate the film and to deflect attention from himself."
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice Movie: Drama||McFarland, USA||Nominated|||
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