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McFarland USA Movie Review

Movie storyline...

After his early coaching career is plagued with troubles and mistakes, Coach Jim White takes the only position he can get: an assistant coaching position in a small, migrant town in California.

The boys are not well suited to football and Coach White doesn’t last long in that role.

Seeing some natural running talent in a few of the boys and being desperate to coach, he finds an opportunity to start a cross-country team at McFarland high school. Through trials and mistakes, the unlikely team builds camaraderie and team spirit and ends up winning the state competition.

All the while, Coach White’s family is becoming endeared to the town they initially despised.  When the opportunity arises to move to a neighboring city with a much higher standard of living and better track program, the family is torn.

My take...

McFarland USA is a movie everyone in the family can see.

Though dramatic moments have intensity (it's rated PG), they aren’t overwhelming, even for the youngest viewers.

The strong family story lines, as well as the triumph of the underdogs, make this a classic sports hero’s tale. And though mistakes are made by Coach White, the redemptive themes in the film make it a must-see for families.

Post-Movie Conversation Starters For Families :

  • (Family question) How would you respond if we ever had to make a drastic move like the Whites did?
  • (Family question) Have you ever found yourself in such a desperate moment that you considered "jumping"?
  • (Parents share) Tell a story from your younger days when you made a mistake that brought unwanted change. Find the silver lining in the consequences and share it.
  • (Parents share) Have you ever had a "desperation moment" when something happened to your kids and you wanted to move heaven and earth to fix it or protect them? Do they know that story? Share it with them.
  • (Family question) Have you ever misjudged someone at first glance? What changed your mind about them?
  • (Parents share) After spending his early career years bouncing around different coaching jobs, Coach White ended up staying in McFarland, CA, for the duration of his career and still resides there today. What have you learned from your early days until now that your kids need to know? Share stories with them that plant those truths.

For an in-depth review of McFarland USA, check out Plugged In.


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