McFarland USA: More Than Just a Movie About Running

Katie Benoit

Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of McFarland, USA Facebook page
Photo courtesy of McFarland, USA Facebook page

When the previews for the Disney movie McFarland USA came out, people thought one of two things. Those who are runners thought, Finally, a movie about cross country. Non-runners probably thought something along the line of Why in the world would I want to go see a movie about running?

Since I run cross country and track, I couldn’t wait to see the movie. A few of my teammates and I took a trip to the theater hoping to gain some inspiration for our season.

The movie is based on the true story of Coach Jim White forming a cross country team in McFarland, California. He decides to create the team after noticing that some of the boys in his gym class have the potential to become great runners.

The neighborhood of McFarland is a poverty stricken area.  The movie is set in the 1980’s when the majority of McFarland’s population was Hispanic. Many of the boys and their families work in fields for hours, harvesting crops for a living.

Although, the movie sounds cliché, it’s quite inspirational. The boys on the team have to overcome their struggles in life and in running. They learn to believe in themselves and each other.

Some of the details about running were a little off however. Obviously, the movie also ended up becoming a bit dramatized by Hollywood.

McFarland isn’t just about running. The movie explores themes of poverty, depression, violence, immigration and life working in the fields. It also touches on family issues and even has a bit of romance to top it off.

I would highly recommend this movie to any runner. It doesn’t matter if you run in college or recreationally.  This is the perfect movie to watch to get some motivation for an upcoming race.

I would also recommend this movie to those who aren’t so interested in the sport. The movie has so much more to it than just running. McFarland is still playing in select theaters and will be released on DVD within a few months.

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