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Kevin Costner does a good job in his latest movie McFarland USA. The Oscar winner plays a high school coach named Jim White who is running out of job opportunities. Bad coaching experiences in his past have caused him and his family to move to a California community that consists mostly of Latino American “pickers.”

It’s a rough start, but White tolerates his situation and makes a connection with seven boys who impress him with their ability to run with endurance. Taking much effort to convince the boys and the school’s leadership, White starts a cross country team while having no experience coaching track.

His coaching approach is unorthodox but definitely entertaining to watch. While other coaches have stopwatches, White uses a kitchen timer.

He also faces challenges with his family (forgets his daughter’s birthday) as well as with the families of his runners. But he overcomes and is willing to do what it takes to bond. There’s even a pleasant surprise that combines a special birthday celebration for his daughter with the heritage of his neighbors – one of the film’s highlights.

The turning point of the movie was a convicting moment for me. What White does to bond with a particular family is impressive and humbling. If he is willing to go to such levels to relate in order to get boys to run in a cross country meet, what should I do to help people experience Jesus and grasp the powerful message of the Gospel?

Based on a true story, McFarland USA is an inspiring tale. Some may say there’s a predictability element, but it’s enjoyable nonetheless. Rated PG, the movie has some language and alludes to gang activity. There’s also some aggressive family confrontations and a suicide attempt.

However, the positive messages far surpass the negative aspects, including the emphasis of family and community. There’s also a scene showing the boys praying together at a meet.

My recommendation list is not very long of current film releases, but McFarland USA would rank high compared to what is currently in the theaters. Go watch and be inspired.

Photo credit: Disney