Like its lead, McFarland USA has a simple, easygoing charm – and in director Niki Caro’s hands (the film, not Costner) what seems so ‘route one’ plays out at a significantly more enjoyable pace than its subjects set themselves.

Time spent in the company of McFarland and its characters is genuinely satisfying; the landscapes are gorgeous, the music infectious, and a sense of understated joy is enough to minimise the impact of infrequent “believe in yourself” moments and occasional over-simplicity.

Likely helped by its factual, period grounding the end result is an old-fashioned offering that’s authentically rousing.

Smile a minute stuff.



CAST: Kevin Costner, Maria Bello


WRITERS: Christopher Cleveland, Bettina Gilois, Grant Thompson

SYNOPSIS: Having moved across the country for a job, football coach Jim White turns seven students into a cross country team.