Movie Review: McFarland USA and FUN Facts #McFarlandUSA

 McFarland USA Movie Review

Grab your friends and family and run to see McFarland USA!  Based on the 1987 true story, McFarland USA movie follows the lives of athletes from McFarland, a predominately Latino community in California Central Valley as they build a cross-country team under the direction of Coach Jim White (Kevin Costner).  The McFarland athletes are farm workers before they arrive to school, students during the day and champions in training after school.  They overcome adversity, economic challenges and lack of athletic resources through their loyalty, hard work and dedicated coach, to become  top cross-country team athletes.

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McFarland USA is  recommended for families, teachers, students, sports enthusiasts and all athletes.  The story is very inspiring and does an outstanding job of showing the real life experiences of economically challenged students pursuing high school athletics.  It doesn’t hold back any dialogue and does a great job of showing how athletes, who are also farm workers deal with adversity on and off the field.   It also dives into the Mexican-American heritage, rights of passage for latinos as well as give us an inside look at mexican culture and traditions.

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McFarland is much more than your typical inspirational sports movie.  It is a story of the journey for the McFarland athletes and Coach Jim White.  A series of events put McFarland students and Coach White on the same path.   Coach White was able to inspire them to greatness by going the extra mile, providing sound advice and taking an interest in each runner’s life on and off the field.  Coach White was also able to make McFarland home for his family and give purpose & meaning to his life through his hands on efforts in his community.  The movie also does a great job of telling the story about the bond between coaches and athletes.

Having come from a latino background and raised in a small border town myself, I can relate to the storyline of the under dog and feelings athletes have without proper equipment or uniforms.  When you lack resources and have the right attitude, you can get inspired and things can definitely take a positive turn! Coach White and the McFarland students show  us that anything is possible!

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The true story came to the attention of the film producers in 1999 after hearing the story in the media about a small town group of heroes. The film’s producers suggested the Director, Niki Caro read the story and the movie started coming to life.

McFarland USA Filmmakers

Directed by . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . NIKI CARO
Screenplay by . . .CHRISTOPHER CLEVELAND & BETTINA GILOIS and GRANT THOMPSON
Story by . . . . . . . . . .. CHRISTOPHER CLEVELAND & BETTINA GILOIS

McFarland USA Cast

Jim White . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . KEVIN COSTNER
Danny Diaz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . RAMIRO RODRIGUEZ
Thomas Valles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .CARLOS PRATTS
Jose Cardenas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .JOHNNY ORTIZ
David Diaz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . RAFAEL MARTINEZ

Johnny Sameniego. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .HECTOR DURAN
Victor Puentes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SERGIO AVELAR
Damacio Diaz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . MICHAEL AGUERO
Señora Diaz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . DIANA MARIA RIVA
Señor Diaz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .OMAR LEYVA
Principal Camillo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . VALENTE RODRIGUEZ
Sammy Rosaldo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . DANNY MORA
Cheryl White . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MARIA BELLO
Julie White . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . MORGAN SAYLOR

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McFarland USA FUN Facts

  • “McFarland, USA” is inspired by a 1987 true story.  Over the years since then, the McFarland High School cross-country teams have won nine state championships and the small school is considered a powerhouse in the sport.
  • Coach Jim White taught in the town of McFarland for 40 years and coached for 25 of those years.  He retired in 2002, but is still involved with the cross-country program.  If you go to McFarland you will see him riding his bike with the kids.
  • Some of the original runners on the championship 1987 cross-country team are educators at McFarland school district.  They are also raising their families in McFarland and support the team financially as needed.
  • Three out of the seven young actors on the team in the movie are from the McFarland area—Sergio Avelar who plays Victor Puentes and Michael Aguero, cast as Damacio Diaz, are actual runners and Ramiro Rodriguez, as Danny Diaz, was a champion soccer player.
  • Ramiro Rodriguez had no intention of auditioning when he agreed to drive his cousin to the casting tryouts for “McFarland, USA.” He landed the role of Danny Diaz after being pestered repeatedly by executive producer Mario Iscovich to audition.
  • Classic lowriders are featured in “McFarland, USA” in several scenes. Lowriders are custom cars fitted with hydraulic jacks that allow the chassis to be lowered almost all the way to the road. Lowriding was very big in California’s Central Valley in the mid-’80s with Bakersfield being one of the lowriding epicenters of the area. Lowriding is often stereotypically depicted as gangster-related in film but the reality is that these car clubs are essentially about family and community and the cars are lovingly treasured.
  • Director Niki Caro took particular interest in the “hero-car” lowrider vehicle— and not just in the service of the movie. The car actually belongs to Caro and she likes to drive the 1970s Chevrolet Caprice, which was customized to the movie’s specifications. The beautiful classic features an iconic chain steering wheel and a mural on the hood that is in the likeness of the owner’s girlfriend in the film, Lupe. The painting is in the style of the Virgin of Guadalupe, which is an ongoing visual theme in the movie.

Uno, Dos, Tres… McFarland!

Eva-TFL

Eva Smith

Publisher at Tech Life Magazine
Eva is an award winning entrepreneur and Publisher of Tech Life Magazine. She has been recognized by Ford Motor Company as a Mujer Legendaria Inteligente (Smart Entrepreneur), USA Today Magazine as a Top Blogger to Watch and Latina Magazine as a Top 25 Latinas Who Shine in Technology. Her work has also been featured on Mashable, Mom.me, Babble, Baby Center, Latinamom.me, USA Today, Latina Magazine, Huffington Post, National Parks Services, Voxxi, NBC Latino, Rolling Stone Magazine & more.She is technologist, engineer, bilingual freelance writer, speaker and digital media consultant.
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