McFarland, USA

First slide

Uplifting fact-based sports drama, set in 1980s California, about a high school teacher and coach (Kevin Costner) whose downward career spiral leads him to take a job in the impoverished fieldworkers' community of the title. As he and his family - Maria Bello plays his wife and Morgan Saylor and Elsie Fisher his daughters - struggle to adjust to the area's Hispanic culture, the trainer recognizes a widespread gift among his new students for long-distance running, and organizes a cross-country team. Director Niki Caro's faith- and family-friendly tale of youthful underdogs pitted against the odds honors its strong central marriage, the bonds of its other close-knit clans as well as the value of education and self-improvement. Highly recommended for moviegoers of most ages.

Watch out for: An out-of-wedlock pregnancy, a single mild oath, a couple of crass terms, occasional ethnic slurs.

Rated: A-II, adults and adolescents; MPAA: PG, parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015