McFarland, USA (Sidenotes: Horns, Get on Up, Before I Go To Sleep, and The Skeleton Twins)


(SPOILER WARNING!!! This article does contain spoilers, if you haven’t seen the movie, just see the first paragraph to be informed without spoilers!!!)

McFarland, USA is a well put together sports movie, that involves a lot of culture and inspiration. It may be a little predictable and cliched especially at the third part of the movie, but it did put a tear to my eye watching this movie.

Rating: 4.5 Stars

With all this political mumbo jumbo about the executive order by President Barack Obama on immigration reform, and how these Republicans are against it for really no good reason other then racism threatening to shutdown our defense department because of it. (Really now, politics is a dirty game, but the Republicans (or mainly tea partiers) are digging themselves in a big hole.) It is good to see a movie where you see the positives of having immigrants in America, showing their unique culture, and seeing a white family learn to not only tolerate it, but embracing these immigrants in America. This movie also plays down many stereotypes that these government officials (Mainly Republicans) use as fact in this issue the US is facing now. I came to see this as a sports/inspirational movie, but once I was done, I got more than that.

What I Like: As a sports movie, I really enjoyed the movie. It might be the first sports movie about the sport of Cross-Country Running. I had many good friends that ran Cross-Country and I had good knowledge of the sport, but I believe director Niki Caro really showed and developed the many different aspects of this sport and how competitive it really is. The acting to me for the most part was superb. Kevin Costner, who really hasn’t made any big movie as of late, really came back to his great acting roots to play Coach Jim White. The movie developed his character very well as a Head High School Football Coach in Idaho who was fired after a physical altercation with a player. He moved to a small farming town in McFarland, CA to become their PE Teacher and assistant coach of the school’s football team. The town is predominantly Hispanic immigrants who work as farm workers called pickers. It was great to see how uncomfortable him and his family was with the people and the city, but the city pretty much greeted them with open arms and they felt like they were home. Coach White planned to be in that school for a little while until he can go to a better place for his family, but once he saw how happy his family was he stayed even with better offers. He started with the football team of McFarland, but after seeing that the team wasn’t going nowhere and a disagreement with the head coach, he decided to just become a teacher. During one of his PE classes he noticed how fast some of the students are, and how fast they run to the fields to get from work as pickers to the school. He decided to start a cross-country team, and recruited some of the students that had the greatest potential. As the story goes, the team becomes immediately successful and had a small farming town believe and bringing in good spirit for the team. Three big moments in that movie that really were powerful. One is where one of the runners named Thomas Valles, played by Carlos Pratt, was having problems at his home and feels like his life is going nowhere and being on the cross-country team was a waste of time. It led to that big moment where he was about to commit suicide by jumping of a bridge and Coach White came and prevented him from doing it. It sparked a breakthrough for Thomas to continue on running and became the best runner of the team. Another moment is when three brothers who were on the team decided to quit, because their father needs them on the fields to make his quota. He thought his boys competing really slowed them down in his work, and that it is the only thing he can to provide for his family. Coach White decided to wake up early, and start picking with the rest of the family that way his dad can make quota and they can still compete in the team. The last moment is when the chubbiest person on the team, Danny Diaz played by Ramiro Rodriguez, who really was on the team because of his two brothers and always came in last place, (a problem I can relate to when I played sports, so it hit me in the heart), how he kept running, and was one of the biggest reasons for his big effort to win the state title. I reared up seeing that kid giving it his all and stepping up when needed. There was another moment for me that affected me is when the McFarland team and their families sang the US National Anthem with their right hands over their hearts. It showed me that no matter where we came from, and how our lifestyle is, we are Americans, and people need to realize and accept it. The movie shows the culture and life of being an American immigrant worker, and why there are important for America.

The So So: For a sports movie, it definitely had it’s cliches and predictability. Add to the mix that it is a formulaic Disney movie didn’t help the cost either. However, given that it is based on a true story, I give it a little leeway. With that said, they really made these cliches work to their favor and it contributed well for the emotion of the movie. I give the director credit for that. The only cliche that really bothered me was the fact that a rival school offered Coach White a job in which he considers, but then deciding to stay. A lot of sports movies do that, and it really gets old.

What I Didn’t Like: It is not a movie involving Mexicans, without cholos and low riders. I believe that stereotype needs to be put to bed.

Overall, this movie is definitely a heartwarming and cultured sports movie which I appreciated. Not a lot of movies make me tear up, and this one did. Don’t judge me for having emotions!!!

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Horns Official Movie Poster.jpg

(Sidenote: Horns- This is one of the movies I wish I haven’t seen. Not only is not my cup of tea that I watch, but how stupid the movie was. This movie started Daniel Radcliffe as Ig Perrish. A guy who is depressed after his girlfriend was murdered and the townspeople think he killed her. He soon grows a set of horns where it makes people confess their sins, and he uses it to find out who murdered her. I appreciate the story’s premise for being original, but in the end of the story, it just got diabolically stupid.
Rating: 2 Stars)

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(Sidenote: Get on Up- This biopic stars Chadwick Boseman as legendary singer and King of soul James Brown. I thought Boseman really captured the essence of James Brown and really acted well. The movie was sporadic in telling Brown’s story with his childhood and cutting it to his career which gets me confused sometime. I like how real they made James Brown’s life and the things he had to go through since a child which can make you appreciate his music more. The music in this movie really got me going, and really appreciate his artistry when it came to funk.
Rating: 4 Stars)

(Sidenote: Before I Go To Sleep- This movie stars Nicole Kidman as Christine Lucas who suffering from amnesia and forgets everything that happens once she wakes up. Her husband Ben Lucas, played by Colin Firth always has to remind her of who she is. Lately, Christine gets help by a doctor named Dr. Nasch, played by Mark Strong, who has her secretly record her thoughts everyday, and reminds her everyday to go watch it. She soon starts remembering on what really happened to her, and realizes she can’t trust anybody. This thriller was predictable with a lot of slow dragging moments. Once it gets to the plot twist, it was whatever.
Rating: 3 Stars)

The Skeleton Twins poster.jpg

(Sidenote: The Skeleton Twins- This movie stars Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig as Milo and Maggie. Fraternal twins who hadn’t spoken to each other for 10 years, but a suicide attempt by Milo brings them together again and relive their lives. This dramedy was more drama than comedy, but it was very well acted. Bill Hader playing a gay man wasn’t that surprising to me because I’ve seen his work in Saturday Night Live. This movie had its slow points, but I really appreciate the realness of this movie. I just wish the problems that happened in this movie were solved at the end, but I guess that’s reality.
Rating: 3.5 Stars)