By Allison Skornick-Rose
Jun 10, 2015 12:38 PM EST

McFarland, USA Blu-ray Review

If you want to watch fiction based on truth, and have a few hours, I suggest sitting down with some popcorn and giving McFarland a go.
McFarland, USA Blu-ray Review
Purchase  Blu-ray | Digital HD
If you've seen Lean On Me or Stand And Deliver, you've pretty much seen McFarland USA.  Impoverished students succeeding against the odds; encouraged by their teacher to achieve greatness despite their surroundings.  The difference here is merely the location – instead of inner-city ghettos,  McFarland,USA takes place in the  produce fields of California.

Jim White (Kevin Costner; 3 Days To Kill) relocates to McFarland when he loses his coaching job in Mid-America.  Besides a new job and home, Jim and his family must adjust to a whole new way of life in the Hispanic, migrant worker town.  As Coach White observes his students, he comes to realize they could be molded into a top-notch boys Cross Country team.  He manages to eventually enlist seven students and create a team that manages to win the state championship.

Based on the true story of the 1987 boys cross-country team, McFarland USA has an excellent cast headed by Costner.  Ramiro Rodriguez, Carlos Pratts (The Bridge), Johnny Ortiz (American Crime), Hector Duran (Hide And Seek), Rafael Martinez (Marza), Sergio Avelar, and Michael Aguero make up the members of the team, who bond like family as they defy the odds, and become the best cross country team in the State of California.  These individuals do a terrific job, especially considering that for some of them this is their first paid acting job.  They complement Costner well and hold their own against the veteran actor.

The story itself is a feel good, heart-wrenching tale of bright, talented young men who try to balance work, school and running while dealing with the pressure, in some cases, from their parents. To know that it is based on real people and events only enhances the story's appeal.  Ultimately, to see most of the town rally behind them and support these young men is such a strong positive message that leaves you feeling warm all over.

The 1080p video is what you would expect with vibrant colors and sharp quality.  The lushness of the green fields truly pop off the screen at you. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 adds to the dramatic appeal of the film and enhances the soundtrack for a complete overall experience.

The extras are truly special on the Blu-ray.  There is a music video that I enjoyed and the segments include a discussion with Costner and the real life members of the 1987 team.  To see the people who inspired this story and listen to them talk about their experience is definitely worth your time.  Unlike other Blu-rays, the deleted scenes are interesting enough to sit through once.

While not a unique plot, the movie moves along at an adequate pace for the two hours and nine minute running time. The writers, director and cast keep the viewer engaged which helps to dissuade any lag time.

If you want to watch fiction based on truth, and have a few hours, I suggest sitting down with some popcorn and giving McFarland a go.  It is truly an uplifting story and you won't be disappointed.  Grade: B

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