It is common knowledge that I'm a big fan of true sports movies regarding stories that are under the radar and rarely been told. So when I started seeing previews for Disney's "McFarland USA", I made a mental note not to miss it.
The themes of this movie - sports, non-fiction, an untold story and the Latino culture reeled me in big time and actually set me up to be disappointed for such an eagerly anticipated film.
Though the movie has been out for a few weeks (and probably disappearing real soon), I hadn't heard much buzz about it. Folks, I was blown away. Some times I'll go to a movie and my eyes will moisten and I'll get a bit weepy. Never have I been at film where tears were streaming down my face and at several different times in the movie no less. And these were tears of happiness, joy and pride.
Maybe because of my long relationship with the Latino community and my visits to poor sections of Latino countries (Mexico and Honduras). Or maybe because of my long history volunteering with the Latino community here in Red Bank. This movie grabbed me early on and did not let go. I think anybody with an open heart will feel the same.
McFarland USA beautifully captured the spirit and realities of the Mexican family and community. The core values of family, religion, hard work and realizing the American dream is the crux of this community.. The hardships this community has encountered and endured is probably not too unlike what many of our relatives endured when they were 1st generation living in the USA.
Who knows how much Disney embellished the story to tug at the audiences heartstrings. But with my daily involvement with the Latino community, the story told seemed extremely real. This was an exceptionally beautiful story and thrilled it was brought to the big screen. Have to give props to Kevin Costner for his clear love of sports themed movies and his awkwardness in this coach/mentor role really worked. He didn't showcase some Lombardi/Wooden icon-like style, rather he was pretty crude and direct. However watching his softening as the film progressed (which was clearly the true life story of Coach Jim White) clearly yielded a legendary role in this communities life (which he is still part of today). And the side story of his relationship building with his oldest daughter and Maria Bello's role as a wonderfully supportive Mom, wife, fan, neighbor and community member is special is the glue of the film.
Please stay and watch the ending which tells the story of the runners life post McFarland HS and it is so heart-warming.
Wrong sport, but this movie was not just a home run…rather moreso, a grand slam.