×

The Mighty Macs

Family-friendly and abounding in uplift, "The Mighty Macs" is an undemandingly pleasant indie drama about the true-life exploits of the 1971-72 Immaculata College basketball team, which set a new standard for achievement in women's sports.

With:
With: Carla Gugino, Ellen Burstyn, Marley Shelton, David Boreanaz, Katie Hayek, Kim Blair.

Family-friendly and abounding in uplift, “The Mighty Macs” is an undemandingly pleasant indie drama about the true-life exploits of the 1971-72 Immaculata College basketball team, which set a new standard for achievement in women’s sports. Pic is so persuasively evocative of its period setting, and so similar in tone and language to G-rated fare produced during that period, that it wouldn’t be surprising if, decades from now, some unwary viewers actually mistake it for a ’70s release. Right now, it should score with auds seeking wholesome theatrical and homevid entertainment.

Indeed, “Mighty Macs” conceivably could tap into the same demo drawn to recent faith-based pics, even though, despite the preponderance of nuns and references to God throughout, it qualifies more as a mainstream megaplex offering with potentially broader appeal.

Carla Gugino is aptly feisty as Cathy Rush, depicted here as a budding feminist happily married to an NBA ref (David Boreanaz), but determined to establish her own identity. She finally lands the job opportunity she seeks at Pennsylvania’s Immaculata College, a liberal-arts university, limited exclusively to women at the time, where sports of any sort have low priority.

Mother St. John (Ellen Burstyn), the harshly pragmatic dean, warns that Immaculata doesn’t have a gym, a history of athletic accomplishment or even a budget for team uniforms. Worse, Immaculata is in such bad financial shape, the institution may be sold to land developers.

What the school needs is divine intervention. What is gets is a feisty basketball coach who demands total commitment and disciplined teamwork from her players, even if they have to play in really, really unflattering dresses that oddly resemble Judy Garland’s attire in “The Wizard of Oz.”

“The Mighty Macs” follows a story arc previously traced by countless other sports pics, as Rush encourages her players to transcend their defeatist mindset and, after a few early humiliating losses, prove their prowess. But there’s a feminist touch to this particular version of the oft-recycled scenario, as the coach helps a cash-strapped, sartorially challenged player (Katie Hayek) boost her self-esteem and inspires a marriage-obsessed beauty (Kim Blair) to be all she can be on the court after her boyfriend dumps her. And while its religious content is limited largely to gags involving cute nuns and their lovable quirks, the film deals sympathetically with the crisis of faith endured by a young novitiate, Sister Sunday (winningly played by Marley Shelton).

Even auds who know nothing about Rush’s real-life coaching successes will have no trouble figuring out early on where “Mighty Macs” will wind up. Writer-director Tim Chambers does little to generate suspense, and appears determined to immediately defuse any situation that even hints at the possibility of unpleasantness. When Rush’s husband complains about feeling neglected, the argument ends before it really starts. And a guy who comes on to Rush and Sister Sunday (while the latter isn’t wearing clerical garb) in a roadside tavern turns out to be the most polite barroom Romeo in movie history.

From Gugino as the demanding coach to Hayek as the poor but proud MVP, perfs across the board are earnest and engaging. Burstyn does a nice job of lacing her character’s sternness with dollops of dry wit, particularly when she announces her low expectations where Rush’s efforts are concerned: “I’ll be satisfied if you just use these activities to repress their hormones.”

Production values evoke the period, with Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky,” used to the point of cliche in this kind of film, here excerpted quite appropriately.

The Mighty Macs

Production: A Freestyle release of an Alexander Grace Curran presentation in association with Pat Croce and Ocean Avenue Entertainment of a Quaker Media production. Produced by Whitney Spring, Tim Chambers. Executive producers, Vince Curran, John Chambers, Thomas Karl, Bud S. Smith, Pat Croce. Directed, written by Tim Chambers, from a story by Chambers, Anthony L. Gargano.

Crew: Camera (color), Chuck Cohen; editor, M. Scott Smith; music, William Ross; production designer, Tim Galvin; art director, Jesse Rosenthal; set decorator, Elise G. Viola; costume designer, Teresa Binder Westby; sound (Dolby Digital), Richard Murphy; associate producer, M. Scott Smith; assistant director, Craig Borden; casting, Adrienne Stern. Reviewed on DVD, Houston, Oct. 15, 2012. MPAA Rating: G. Running time: 98 MIN.

With: With: Carla Gugino, Ellen Burstyn, Marley Shelton, David Boreanaz, Katie Hayek, Kim Blair.

More Film

  • Tiny: The Life of Erin Blackwell

    Film Review: 'TINY: The Life of Erin Blackwell'

    “Streetwise,”  the classic and haunting 1984 documentary about homeless street kids in Seattle, is a movie that’s now 35 years old. But for anyone who has seen it, the children it’s about — drifters, hustlers, squatters, thieves, prostitutes — remain frozen in time. And none of them was ever more memorable than Tiny, the 14-year-old [...]

  • Animation Studio Fire

    Revenge Motive May Have Sparked Kyoto Animation Arson Attack

    Japanese media is speculating that revenge was the motivation for the arson attack on Kyoto Animation which killed 33 people on Thursday. Investigative sources quoted by Jiji Press on Friday said that the man in custody had a grudge against the studio. “Since [the studio] stole my novel, I poured out the liquid and set [...]

  • Terminator: Dark Fate Gabriel Luna

    'Terminator: Dark Fate' Cast Proud of Latinx Representation in Latest Installment

    The stars of the Tim Miller-directed “Terminator: Dark Fate” stormed the stage of San Diego Comic-Con’s Hall H on Thursday, but it wasn’t until after the panel — which included appearances from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton — that Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna and Diego Boneta reflected on what makes the upcoming installment in the [...]

  • It

    Producer Sues Warner Bros. Over 'It' Film Adaptations

    A producer who developed the original “It” TV miniseries sued Warner Bros. on Thursday, alleging the studio breached his contract by making the films “It” and “It Chapter Two” without him. Frank Konigsberg and Larry Sanitsky were running Telepictures in the early 1980s when they acquired the rights to the Stephen King novel. They developed [...]

  • Animation Studio Fire

    Kyoto Arson Attack: Animation Community Mourns Colleagues

    Thursday’s deadly attack on Japan’s Kyoto Animation studios left many in the animation community shocked and horrified by the loss of 33 of their colleagues. Another 36 people were injured in the attack, which was Japan’s deadliest ever. A suspect was arrested after pouring a flammable liquid inside the building, which caught fire and trapped [...]

  • Nicolas Cage

    Film News Roundup: Nicolas Cage's '10 Double Zero' Completes Financing

    In today’s film news roundup, financing has been secured for a Nicolas Cage police drama, feature drama “Topside” is unveiled and the late Tom Snyder is getting a tribute from his daughter. FINANCING COMPLETED DCR Finance Corp. has signed a deal to complete the financing for Nicolas Cage’s upcoming crime drama “10 Double Zero.” The [...]

  • Matt Damon and Tom McCarthy Team

    Matt Damon Teams with 'Spotlight' Director Tom McCarthy on New Film (EXCLUSIVE)

    Even as buzz grows for his upcoming race car drama “Ford v. Ferrari,” Matt Damon looks to keep the pedal to the metal: the A-lister is set to star in the Participant Media feature film “Stillwater” with Tom McCarthy directing. Damon attached himself in May, and the package was quickly acquired by Participant, who previously [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content