It’s not like we haven’t seen this story before. However, we’ve never seen it based on the real-life story of a first-time female basketball coach who took a small, all-girls Catholic college basketball team, with no budget and no gym, to consecutive national championships.
That coach is Cathy Rush, played here by Carla Gugino. In 1971, Cathy, the wife of an NBA referee, is the only person to apply for the job of basketball coach at Immaculata College, a school with fewer than 500 students and a struggling basketball team. The school doesn’t have enough money to survive, let alone the cash to provide the team with up-to-date uniforms. Ellen Burstyn plays Mother St. John, a former fun-loving (so we’re supposed to believe) mother superior who doesn’t approve of Cathy’s attitude or methods. Naturally, that eventually changes.
If you’ve taken a few moments to Google Cathy Rush between this and the previous sentence, then you already know she’s a legend. Why? See The Mighty Macs and you’ll get a superficial idea. There’s really nothing new here. Other than some nice cinematography and some quality acting from quality actresses, The Mighty Macs is just like every other underdog sports story that’s ever been produced, though with less-than-average punch. It should’ve been a slam dunk but lacks the emotional depth to take its place among classic sports underdog films like Rudy and Hoosiers. The Mighty Macs is a nice story but it’s not a good movie.
Two out of five stars.