McFarland USA Blu-Ray Review

Listen To The After The Show Podcast Here

The Movie: 7.5/10
Tug at the heart. Is that a sentence? Is THAT a sentence? Moving on. A movie that tugs at the heart-strings using a sport of some kind and a coach who needs to learn life lessons as much as his students/team is not hard to find. If you have seen enough movies you have seen at least one of these every year for as long as movies have been made. I’m sure there are a lot more than that, but 1 is enough. I’m not saying I don’t like McFarland. It’s a well made, well acted, looking great film that tells a quality story.

I’m struggling to find anything I didn’t like enough to mention. Hmmm maybe it bordered on semi-hoky now and then, overly sentimental, and then on the other side, not gritty enough. Other than that, it’s as solid, fun, well intended tale of life changing attitudes. It’s nothing new or exciting, if I’m totally honest. However, there is something about this particular story about these particular people and the quality of the whole thing that makes it a very enjoyable experience.

You can say what you want about Costner, but he’s getting better with age. He doesn’t seem to showboat as much as he used to, and he’s calming down. I remember a time when the feeling of one of his movies was KEVIN COSTNER KEVIN COSTNER KEVIN COSTNER, but not anymore.

Maria Bello is my favorite part of the whole movie, and yet she is again, the wife. She’s got a naturalness to her that makes me sure she’s really married to this guy, living in that house, mother to those girls. I want more movies with her as the lead. The young men of the cast of runners are all amazing. Seriously, from scene to scene they take every scene from their Hollywood king Costner.

The story ultimately takes center stage, the boys of a kind of down and out school pull together to make a cross-country running team that brings changes their point of view on life in general. Like I said, not original:)  I wasn’t tugged too much in the emotional area, but just enough to notice that I was almost at a TED talk about life and tolerance and learning to change and adapt in life to survive. A couch out of water and a team that’s not a team, all motivated to do better, be better, and in the end…..oh, shucks…I’m not gonna tell you the end!

If you like uplifting stuff, this is a movie for you. If you like Disney’s cleansing of things like gang violence and the trauma of a family picking up and moving to a whole new city, well, you’ll love it even more. It’s great Saturday afternoon flick to put some smiles on your little faces.

Features: 6/10

  • McFarland Reflections (9 Minutes) – Kevin Costner sits down with the real cross-country team from McFarland. You really get to see the respect the team have for Jim White and Mr Costner and its a delight to watch.
  • Juntos Music Video
  • Inspiring McFarland (2 Minutes) – A very brief promotional piece, doesn’t tell you anything really except the movie exists.
  • Deleted Scenes (8 Minutes) – Six deleted scenes that actually tell the story of a plot point that was removed from the film. Worth watching for the performances by the young actors.
  • Disney Anywhere Digital HD Copy

Cover Art: 2/10
The cover is too boring for such a nice movie. I wouldn’t have it as a poster.

Audio & Video: 8/10
Disney have taken McFarland USA and given it the top-tier treatment with an AVC 1080P encode that will impress even the most jaded viewer. Detail is strong, edge enhancement is not present and the films natural color palette looks inviting. No macroblocking or banding were noticed during our projected screening on a 104 inch screen.

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is solid but not overwhelming. Naturally this movie is mostly talk and the dialog is always centered and easy to understand. During the cross-country races you will hear a lot of surround sound ambience that really puts you in the race with the young athletes. This is a very competent audio track and will satisfy fans of the film.

Overall Score 7/10