With McFARLAND USA, you know what you’re going to get out of an inspiring real-life sports drama from Disney. The underdog is going to rise up above all the obstacles that life through in their way, making them stronger in the process, allowing that taste of victory to be much sweeter than originally thought. Only this time, the Mouse has gone looking in a most unlikely area – the world of cross country running. There’s far less excitement in the depiction of a 3.1-mile race occurring over a number of terrains than there would be a football, hockey or baseball game – all areas Disney has already tapped into before – but what helps McFARLAND USA stand on its own is its exploration of a poor community in California, filled with many migrant worker families, coming together to support what these team of high school boys is hoping to accomplish. As the immigration debate still raging on in the United States and the demographics continue to shift in America, McFARLAND USA puts a different cultural face on who a champion can be and what drives them.
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Carlos Pratts and Hector Duran, two of the members of McFARLAND USA’s Cougars cross country team, as they made their way through Miami to promote the film. Over the course of our talk, we discuss the portrayal of Latinos in Hollywood films, the realistic dreams one can strive for in trying to create a better life for themselves, the training that went into getting in shape for a movie about cross country and more. Enjoy.