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McFarland, USA - Inspiring and Dramatic Story About Unlikely Champions

02/26/2015 06:54 pm ET | Updated Apr 28, 2015

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A cross country coach in a small California town transforms a team of athletes into championship contenders. More than just physical prowess drives the teens to succeed; their strong family ties, incredible work ethic and commitment to their team all play a factor in forging these novice runners into champions. KIDS FIRST! Critic Gerry Orz comments, "This movie is truly an inspirational story for anyone who watches. McFarland USA will keep everyone on the edge of their seats." Kayla P. adds, "The message of this film is to not judge a book by its cover." See their full reviews below.

McFarland, USA
Reviewed by Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Critic, age 12

This movie is truly an inspirational story for anyone who watches. McFarland USA will keep everyone on the edge of their seats.

McFarland USA will make you cry, laugh and more. It is a compelling film based on a true story that is full of drama and a solid feeling of inspiration. However, there is a hint of comedy to brighten things up and a spice of thrill that will keep you engaged throughout the movie.

The story starts when a family moves to a very poor town in central California called McFarland. Track coach Jim White (Kevin Costner) is a newcomer to a predominately Latino high school in California's Central Valley. He quickly notices that the kids there are faster than he has ever seen and turns the fastest boys into a cross country track team. The movie covers the relationship between the coach and the boys, his relationship with his family and the adventure the boys and the coach go through as they try to win the state cross country championship.

This movie is truly compelling and inspiring. After seeing it I had an urge to do more. It has a fantastic mix between concentrating on the coach's story but also looks at each person on the team, which I think was a fantastic decision. The acting is impressive especially since some of the actors had never even acted before and some of them actually grew up in McFarland.

My favorite scene is when they have a one on one race with another school. Once the two teams start running, the opposing coach starts teasing Coach White. However, after the team's fastest player, Thomas (Carlos Pratts) finishes first, he brings back all that teasing but in a very classy way. I love this scene because it shows that the team was looked down on but they rose above the torment and tease and truly believed in themselves and a better future for themselves.

This film has a lot of mature moments that may be a bit too much for younger kids, so I give it an age rating of 10 to18. I also give it 5 out of 5 stars for a truly inspiring and fantastic film.

McFarland, USA
by Kayla P., KIDS FIRST! Critic, Age: 13

McFarland, USA is a wonderful family drama based on a true story from 1987.

McFarland, USA is about a coach who gets fired from his job due to inappropriate and harsh behaviors towards his colleagues and students. Coach White (Kevin Costner) and his family have to relocate to McFarland, a town populated by farm growers. McFarland is the only place Coach White is able to find a job as a PE teacher and assistant football coach. He notices that a few of the kids are very fast runners. Coach White learns that there is a state wide cross country tournament. When coaching football fails, he decides to form a cross country team. He trains the kids to compete at different tournaments with hopes of taking them to the state championship to win money for the school. During the journey of preparing the team, Coach White, his family and the teammates learn an important lesson of dedication and commitment.

My favorite character is Danny Diaz, (Ramiro Rodriguez). He is focused and a determined member on the cross country team. Although he is not one of the fastest runners, he learns to never quit no matter how far behind he is and to keep pushing.

The message of this film is to not judge a book by its cover. When the McFarland team travels to different tournaments, some of the competitors pick on them because they are different and do not have the newest clothes or shoes like everyone else. Most of the other racers, as well as the other coaches, make fun of the McFarland team. They all learn not to underestimate anyone by merely judging them by their outward appearance.

My favorite part is when Jim White, Kevin Costner, tries to plan a Quinceaňera for his daughter. He sends his wife and daughters away to the salon and goes outside to plan the party with Senor Diaz (Omar Leyva). As Coach White tells Senor Diaz how to prepare for the party, Senor Diaz tells Coach White to sit down and says, "we are the Indians, not the chiefs." Once Coach White sits down, a group of women come in and tell the men what they need to do.

McFarland, USA is a wonderful movie great for the entire family. I recommend this movie for kids and teens ages 8 - 18 years old. I give this movie 5 out of 5 golden stars. McFarland is playing in theaters now so, don't miss it.

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Gerry O.

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Kayla P.