Weak as it may be dramatically, it’s hard not to appreciate and support The Mighty Macs – mostly because it’s all-too rare that we see a sports movie featuring women beating the odds to become unlikely champions. It’s been nearly 20 years since A League of Their Own – and that one still had a guy at the helm (Tom Hanks). With The Mighty Macs, it’s girl power all the way. It’s Sister Act meets Hoosiers… let me explain:
Carla Gugino plays Cathy Rush, a young woman who takes on coaching duties at Immaculata College, a small, all-girls Catholic school outside Philadelphia. It’s 1971 – the first year that college women’s basketball teams will compete for a national championship. Immaculata doesn’t have money for uniforms or a team bus or even a new gym to practice in (the old one burned down). But Rush doesn’t let that – or the skeptics, including her husband, NBA referee Ed Rush (David Boreanaz) – diminish her spirit. She rallies her girls, challenges them on and off the court, and teaches them the value of teamwork. And wouldn’t you know it – the Mighty Macs of Immaculata become the Cinderella story of the college sports world, making it all the way to the finals. Do they win? What do you think? (you can’t really spoil an ending that’s in the history books – or Wikipedia).
The Mighty Macs is not the best in its genre. It aint no Rocky – not even close- and it tends to get ridiculously preachy and cliché-ridden. But overall, it’s hard not to cheer – along with the nuns – for The Mighty Macs, and for the movie’s groovy 1970s wardrobe. It’s not a must-see, but if you’re looking for a sweet and simple G-rated drama to take the girls to, this movie does help showcase how far they’ve come, and how far they can go.