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Movie Review

The Mighty Macs

Reviewed by: Julia Webster
CONTRIBUTOR

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Family Teens Adults
Genre:
Sports Action Drama
Length:
1 hr. 42 min.
Year of Release:
2009
USA Release:
October 17, 2009 (festival)
October 21, 2011 (wide—1000+ theaters)
DVD: February 21, 2012
Copyright, Ocean Avenue Entertainment, Quaker Media click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Ocean Avenue Entertainment, Quaker Media Copyright, Ocean Avenue Entertainment, Quaker Media Copyright, Ocean Avenue Entertainment, Quaker Media Copyright, Ocean Avenue Entertainment, Quaker Media Copyright, Ocean Avenue Entertainment, Quaker Media Copyright, Ocean Avenue Entertainment, Quaker Media Copyright, Ocean Avenue Entertainment, Quaker Media Copyright, Ocean Avenue Entertainment, Quaker Media Copyright, Ocean Avenue Entertainment, Quaker Media
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Ocean Avenue Entertainment, Quaker Media

hope and faith

women in the Bible

collegiate athletics

national champion in women’s basketball

bucking cultural norms

Featuring: Carla GuginoCathy Rush
David Boreanaz … Ed Rush
Marley Shelton … Sister Sunday
Ellen BurstynMother St. John
Lauren Bittner … Mary Margaret O’Malley
Jennifer Wiener … Nun
more »
Director: Tim Chambers
Producer: Quaker Media
John Chambers … executive producer
Pat Croce … executive producer
more »
Distributor: Ocean Avenue Entertainment, Quaker Media

“She just wanted to make a difference. She wound up making history.”

Produced by Pat Croce, former NBA coach, sports commentator, and motivational speaker, and written and directed by relative unknown Tim Chambers, “The Mighty Macs” brings to life a true story based on the first team ever to win the national women’s college basketball championship.

In 1971, Immaculata College is a struggling Catholic girls’ college with a very small and inadequately trained basketball team. Enter newly-hired Cathy Rush (played with intensity and enthusiasm by Carla Gugino), a quirky, committed young coach with great desire and passion to create a winning team. What follows is the rebuilding of the basketball team, which may be the only hope of survival for the financially destitute college.

With no gym and virtually no equipment, Cathy begins to rebuild the basketball team. Her unorthodox methods drive away some of the players, but, in the end, draw the rest of the girls together. A young novice (Marley Shelton), who is questioning her calling to be a nun, becomes Cathy’s chief supporter and also the team’s assistant coach. The group builds slowly from a losing team with no followers to one that competes in the national championship to the cheers of many adoring fans.

Ellen Burstyn plays Mother St. John with the same dry-witted, eye-rolling style used by Rosalind Russell as Mother Superior in the film “The Trouble with Angels.” Chambers adds another homage to the 1966 classic near the end of “The Mighty Macs,” when the Sisters raise their skirts while cheering for the team and reveal they are all wearing high-top black Chuck Taylor gym shoes ala Mary Wickes’ Sister Clarrisa.

Peeks into the personal lives of the coaches, the teachers, the players and their families are interspersed within the main basketball theme and give an added dimension to the story. For example, the cramped, cluttered apartment shared by Cathy and her husband Ed (David Boreanaz), an NBA referee, paints a picture of the strain placed on their relationship by Cathy’s work with the team.

Other locations used are well-chosen and authentic, including views of the real Immaculata College (now Immaculata University—immaculata.edu), while the costumes and detailed set decorations also add to the 1970’s portrayal. Cathy’s extensive wardrobe does become distracting during the course of the film, as she changes clothes with every scene and her gorgeous outfits don’t seem to fit the character of a low-paid basketball coach.

“The Mighty Macs” presents its faith-based story very tastefully, including softly filmed backgrounds of crosses and other religious icons, as well as scenes of characters praying. It is worth mentioning that the film includes a few instances of one character lying to another. Though the lies mostly provide moments of comedy, and are what most would consider to be “white lies,” parents may find an opportunity to remind their children of the Ten Commandments and God’s law not to lie, even when it doesn’t appear to cause any harm.

Another reminder of the inspirational nature of the story includes the Bible verses displayed by the crowd attending the championship game. Hanging from the wall and held in the hands of fans, the signs contain references to Mark 9:23 (And Jesus said to him, “…All things are possible for one who believes.”) and to Matthew 17:20 (He said to them, “…For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”)

Before the Macs final game, during her locker room speech to the team, Cathy quotes the words of First Corinthians 9:24:

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.”

As Cathy’s coaching and teaching had encouraged the team throughout the season, Paul’s words encourage the team to play their best as they strive for the championship.

While “The Mighty Macs” may follow the typical formula of “underdog makes good,” it is still a great family film, which all ages will enjoy.

(One final note: Be sure to watch for an appearance by real-life coach Cathy Rush as a bank teller.)

Violence: None / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—This is a brilliant movie, so inspirational and thrilling, the only problem is getting this on DVD, I tried to get it but seems not available even in eBay and Amazon. Because Thomas the Train characters have similar names the search is diverted to toys and books. Try to get this one on DVD; it’s worth watching again and again. It’s kind of “Remember the Titans” meets “Sister Act”…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Cyril Thomas, age 32 (United Kingdom)
Positive—This Mighty Macs was a solid movie. The acting was good… not spectacular, and the storyline, although predictable, kept you interested. The only cautionary part was when the coach and nun went to the bar and had a couple of beers. A gentleman tries to pick them up but they let him know in a polite way that they were not available. The coach and her husband kiss a couple times. All-in-all a film worth seeing as this true story touched so many of the girls in real life and led them to many great things in their own lives.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Hank, age 34 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—This movie was okay… but I got a little squeamish during something the coach, the main character of the movie, said: “There is no point in being here if you don’t want to win.” What happened to playing because you love the game, no matter if you win or lose?
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Kadie Jo, age 19 (USA)
Neutral—Overall, I liked the movie. I mean it’s the same basic formula that any other sports movie seems to take, like “Miracle” and “Remember the Titans”. But it was still enjoyable to watch. Unlike another sort of girls and basketball movie, this movie didn’t portray the head of the church as the main antagonist or glorify the idea of pride.

The one thing that I disagree with theologically speaking is the idea of when the coach says, “you think, so then shall you be.” I’d say that gives too much credit to people. For the record, though my denomination is not Calvinistic, I consider myself one. Humanity can do nothing apart from what God intends. To me, it would be more theologically accurate to say “As God wishes you to be, so shall you be.” Things like confidence and believing in yourself mean nothing. If God wishes you to be a winner, then you will be one. Similarly, if He wishes you to fail then you will, indeed, fail.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—nameless, age 24 (USA)
Negative

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