DVD Release Date: February 21, 2012
Theatrical Release Date: October 21, 2011 (limited)
Rating: G
Genre: Drama, Action, Sports
Run Time: 102 min.
Director: Tim Chambers
Stars: Carla Gugino, David Boreanaz, Marley Shelton, Ellen Burstyn

The early ‘70s was a time when girls were still expected to get married and settle down. Oh sure, women were out there talking about “equal rights” and all, but nice girls found husbands and built their lives around hearth and home. Unless, of course, you were Cathy Rush—a nice girl with a nice husband who wasn’t quite ready to settle down and knit booties.

Meanwhile, over at Immaculata College the nuns were facing a financial crisis. They’re losing so much money that, as the Monsignor says, “It will take an act of God to save this school.” To which the Mother Superior (Ellen Burstyn, W.) replies, “That’s exactly what I’ve been praying for.” Guess what? God was listening to her prayer. And he decided—as he often does—to answer her prayer in a totally unexpected way: with a basketball coach named Cathy Rush.

She has no coaching experience. They have no gym (it burned down before she arrived). Never mind. Cathy jumps in where angels fear to tread, holding practice in a rundown activity center with a team that’s not exactly enthusiastic (especially after they see the uniforms). All this in a day when girls’ sports got even less support than they do today. Even Cathy’s husband, NBA referee Ed Rush (David Boreanaz, TV series Bones), is less than enthusiastic about his wife’s new career. Yet somehow this rookie coach manages to build a team that eventually learns how to be a team—and even learns how to win.

Carla Gugino (Mr. Popper's Penguins) plays real-life coach Cathy Rush with just enough naïve, perky enthusiasm to be charming but not irritating. She manages to deliver lines like “If you can’t trust your teammates to tell you your lipstick’s wrong you can’t trust them to call the right play” and make them sound at least appropriate for the situation. But the character to watch is Sister Sunday (Marley Shelton, Scream 4) a young nun whose prayer for “a sign” is answered by a coach’s whistle. Her quick-witted exchange with a would-be suitor and sincere expression of faith adds just the right note of authenticity.

What is it about the classic underdog sports story that’s so appealing? Even when we know David is going to beat Goliath, it’s still satisfying to root for the little guy with the slingshot. (Especially when “David’s” cheering section is a bunch of nuns singing fight songs while dressed in head-to-toe habits. Seriously, that never gets old.)

This true tale of the team that went from a ragtag group of girls to a team in contention for the first national championship in women’s college basketball history may be a bit of a cliché but it’s still a great story played out with a lot of heart. Funny, charming, and suitable for all audiences, The Mighty Macs is a slam dunk.

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol: Beer drinking in bar, celebratory champagne suggested but no actual drinking shown.
  • Language/Profanity: “It’ll be a cold day in he**” is as bad as it gets.
  • Sex/Nudity: Close contact between male/female during scrimmage, pat on behind; occasional kiss/hug between married couple.
  • Violence: Normal basketball play (scuffling, etc.) but no off-court violence.
  • Spiritual Concerns: One character briefly masquerades as a nun.