Young Writers Society

E - Everyone

Movie Review Essay on "McFarland, USA" (w/ bibliography)

by looseleaf

The Best Disney Movie: McFarland USA


The movie McFarland, USA is an iconic Disney movie of the 21st Century. For fifty-one years, Movie Studios Review, the top American movie rating company, has watched and reviewed every film to hit the box office since 1969. I am a senior movie critic at Movie Studio Reviews, and McFarland, USA is the most memorable film since October Sky. McFarland, USA is a true story of one team’s aim to achieve greatness for their school in cross country and their personal struggles along the way. McFarland, USA is a well-acted film about the struggles of young athletes and their coach trying to achieve greatness against all odds.

The Characters of McFarland, USA

McFarland, USA’s talented actors make the film come alive on the screen. Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Costner plays Jim White, a new turn for Costner who honed his acting chops in such classics as Dances with Wolves and The Bodyguard. Morgan Saylor and Elsie Fisher play White’s young daughters who are close to their mother, played by Maria Bello. Victor Puentes (Sergio Avelar), Thomas Valles (Carlos Chalabi), and Johnny Samaniego (Hector Duran) make their debut as McFarland High School students by day and migrant farmworkers by night. Rafael Martinez, Ramiro Rodriguez, and Michael Aguero star as the lovable Diaz brothers and Johnny Oritz plays their close friend and teammate, Jose Cardenas. The young men’s performance in the film makes viewers believe the actors may be professional runners off the screen. Valente Rodriguez of Blood In, Blood Out and Happily Divorced plays Principal Camillo, a humorous principal who gives White permission to start a running team. Even though the runners’ fathers are not shown in many scenes, Ben Hernandez Bray and Omar Leyva do a spectacular job at playing the runners’ disapproving parents. The terrific acting in McFarland, USA, especially by its newcomers, contributes to the film’s ability to connect with its audience.

The Plot of McFarland, USA

The film opens with Jim White, recently fired from his well-paying job as a football coach at all-white high school, driving to his new home in McFarland, California. White is forced to move and take a job at impoverished McFarland High School where most of the student body are children of Mexican immigrants. White begins teaching Physical Education, but quickly notices the speed of students Victor, Thomas and Johnny in gym class. After watching the students in action, White decides to start a cross country running team at the school. At first, Thomas is reluctant, but Principal Camillo forces Thomas to join or face suspension for violating school rules. White also recruits the Diaz brothers and Jose Cardenas to round out the seven spots on the school running team. Parents Ernesto Valles and Señor Diaz are not initially supportive of their sons’ running as it takes away from time spent in the fields by the young men earning money for their families. Just as White is starting to put roots in McFarland, he receives an inquiry from a coach at a posh high school in Palo Alto to leave McFarland for a higher paying job, safer neighborhoods, and better education for his daughters. While considering a potential move, White continues to train the boys for the cross country state championship. In a highly-riveting climax, the McFarland cross country team clinches the championship through stunning physical on-screen performances by Thomas, Victor, and Danny. 

Rating for McFarland, USA

McFarland, USA is one of the best non-animated Disney movies of the decade and garners a solid “nine” on the Movie Review Studios’ scale. Moviegoers will find themselves rooting for White and for his unpolished team of “wannabe” long-distance runners. Not only will Disney’s story capture viewers’ hearts, but it will not disappoint them with its heartwarming ending. McFarland, USA has been nominated for several awards, including the 2015 Teen Choice Award for Best Movie and the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture. Whether or not it captures the ultimate prizes, Movie Review Studios wholeheartedly recommends the film for young and old alike.


McFarland, USA promises to be one of Disney’s newest classics given its thoughtful acting, wonderful plot and endearing message. The film resonates with audiences because it tells a human story, that of growing up poor but defying the odds to accomplish something great. Viewers of all ages and walks of life will relate to the movie’s characters and their struggle to achieve something bigger than themselves. McFarland, USA is a Cinderella-story of its time that will bring a tear to viewers’ eyes, and a smile on their faces.

768 Words

Annotated Bibliography

Secondary Source


"McFarland, USA." IMDb, Amazon. Google,

5c6c0fc6. Accessed 16 Jan. 2020.

IMDb is owned and operated by Amazon. It is a great site for facts,

reviews, and photos for films. This website provided facts about

the awards McFarland, USA were nominated for. Also, it showed

how much the general public enjoyed the film and if they would

recommend it.

"McFarland USA (2015)." Rotten Tomatoes, Fandango, Nov. 2015. Google, Accessed 16 Jan. 2020.

This site, owned and operated by Fandango, is very helpful when it

comes to the cast and crew of movies. Rotten Tomatoes provided facts

about the actors, their awards, and other films they had starred in

before McFarland, USA. This information fits perfectly within the

“characters” paragraph of the essay.

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Is this a review?



User avatar
5 Reviews

Points: 256
Reviews: 5

Wed Dec 07, 2022 8:44 pm
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YesChef wrote a review...

"Yeah, seven runners, not six and Danny Diaz."

This is a great essay.

"I am a senior movie critic at Movie Studio Reviews, and McFarland, USA is the most memorable film since October Sky."

I love this quote, because you referenced a previous movie that you had reviewed, October Sky. This made me giggle.

"McFarland, USA is one of the best non-animated Disney movies of the decade and garners a solid “nine” on the Movie Review Studios’ scale."

I do have to say, I don't agree with this rating. I personally believe that movie is mid at best but Danny Diaz makes it a ten.

"Valente Rodriguez of Blood In, Blood Out and Happily Divorced plays Principal Camillo, a humorous principal who gives White permission to start a running team."

I like how you reference other movies in this essay. It lets the reader know you are a human full of real emotions as opposed to a faceless robot churning out movie reviews to feed the capitalists.

Who was your favorite character? Mine was Danny Diaz. He is so me.

User avatar
1253 Reviews

Points: 1822
Reviews: 1253

Sun Jan 26, 2020 4:36 am
Elinor wrote a review...

Hey LZPianoGirl!

Happy review day! I thought that I would drop by and give you a quick review. I've never seen McFarland USA, but even so I should still be able to understand your argument.

I'm not sure if this was for class or had to follow a specific format. The essay, overall, is well written and clear. The one thing is that reading it feels a bit clinical for me. I wanted more of your personal opinions about the movie and why you liked it. What is it about the story that resonates? Are there any scenes in particular that stand out?

In regards to your introduction paragraph, I'm confused by your reference to McFarland as an iconic Disney film. From what I remember, it came and went and no one I know really talks about it. Perhaps you should make the argument as to why it deserves to be remembered as a classic.

I hope this helps! Don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.

All the best,

looseleaf says...

Thanks for the review!

User avatar
91 Reviews

Points: 1725
Reviews: 91

Thu Jan 23, 2020 2:22 am
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dahlia58 wrote a review...

I've never reviewed an essay before, but I'll do my best.

First off, you're a senior movie critic? That's impressive. And this movie review essay really made me interested in McFarland, USA. One thing I'd like to suggest is, you do not have to say the movie's title so often. Mentioning the full title just once or twice in a paragraph is sufficient for readers to understand. Also, perhaps you could combine the first two sentences in the introduction. Doing this will make the writing flow more smoothly. I found the last sentence of the essay convincing (regarding how good McFarland, USA is), and I especially like the "Cinderella-story" reference.

This essay is pretty good^^ Is this a rough draft, or the final version?

looseleaf says...

Final version! Also, for this essay, our teacher wanted us to pretend we were "movie critics" from "prestigious film companies". Thanks for the review!

dahlia58 says...

Same to you, thanks for your review^^

If Ch. 4 was fun, feel free to read the previous chapters (of course, you don't have to leave any reviews for them). They're just as interesting, and they're also shorter than Ch. 4.

Have a nice evening!

dahlia58 says...

@LZPianoGirl (I forgot to add this...)

looseleaf says...

Don't worry, it gives me a notification when you respond anyways!

dahlia58 says...

That's good

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