Jon Hamm got his chance to star in a Disney sports drama inspired by real events this year, with Million Dollar Arm; and in 2015, it’s going to be Kevin Costner’s turn to inspire a team of underdogs, in McFarland, USA. The film was directed by Niko Caro, whose past work has tended to lie outside the mainstream (see: Whale Rider, North County); judging by the new trailer footage (see above), Caro’s crowd-pleasing sports tale should be as visually-handsome as her indie work, all the same.
The McFarland script – penned by Christopher Cleveland and Bettina Gilois (Glory Road) as well as Grant Thompson (Stall 60 on the Sunset Strip) – looks to very much follow the Disney inspirational sports tale formula that’s been popularized over the past decades by such Mouse House-backed releases as Cool Runnings and Remember the Titans, among others. Indeed, the trailers almost play out as a checklist running down the requisite elements for this type of genre movie.
Here is an official description of the setup for McFarland, USA:
Based on the 1987 true story, “McFarland, USA” follows novice runners from McFarland, an economically challenged town in California’s farm-rich Central Valley, as they give their all to build a cross-country team under the direction of Coach Jim White (Kevin Costner), a newcomer to their predominantly Latino high school.
Million Dollar Arm, unlike a movie such as Cool Runnings, was (fairly) criticized for placing too much focus on the “coach” figure’s character story thread, and not enough on the under-privileged athletes in the story; hopefully, that won’t also prove to be the case with McFarland. The supporting cast includes established names like Maria Bello (Prisoners) and Morgan Saylor (Homeland), but those playing the members of the McFarland cross-country team – Carlos Pratts, Hector Duran, and Sergio Avelar among them – deserve a proper chance to break-out as actors, with their roles in the Disney sports feature.
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McFarland, USA opens in U.S. theaters on February 20th, 2015.
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