The story portrayed in The Mighty Macs is one of those you wouldn't believe except it is true. Yes there was a women's basketball team at Immaculata College back in the early 1970's, and yes there was a coach named Cathy Rush who took over the team and led it to national glory. This is the plot of the film and in its "Hoosiers" like way it presents the facts as cohesively and dynamically as possible.
Cathy Rush (Carla Gugino) was a woman on a mission when she met with Mother St John (Ellen Burstyn) and applied for the job of coach for the women's basketball team. There were almost no facilities for practicing and the home games had to be played at a local high school, but Rush persevered. She knew she had some extraordinary raw talent on the team and she was determined to mold it through discipline and support.
In the film she gets an assist in the person of Sister Sunday (Marley Shelton). This nun knows something about basketball and eventually becomes Rush's assistant coach. Between the two of them they manage to find ways to get the team to its away games and also to the tournaments they eventually enter.
The Mighty Macs is a good movie but it has some things going against it. First off it is G rated and G rated movies are just not taken seriously by dedicated movie attendees. Make it a PG or a PG-13 and people will come but slap a G on it and the crowds will run in the opposite direction.
Also this is not a star studded cast. Gugino is a solid actress but not a well known one. The same can be said about David Boreanaz and Marley Shelton. Only Award winner Ellen Burstyn meets the criteria of "star" and even she is not now as well known as she once was.
The filmmakers also dropped the ball when they gave the film no depth as to characters. A few individual players are singled out for a brief introduction but none of their back stories are followed. The same is true for Rush. It is indicated her coaching career placed a strain on her marriage but you won't see that followed up in the movie. In truth Boreanaz only appears for a few minutes as Rush's husband Ed.
A little research shows that Ed and Cathy Rush did eventually divorce. This was after they had two sons, the oldest of which Cathy was pregnant with at the time of the Nationals. Also there was no Sister Sunday who helped coach the team.
The film is dedicated to the story of the team and that is a worthy tale to tell. This coach and these young women did bring off a miracle of sorts by their amazing success. Still it dilutes the emotional power of the film when the individual stories are so completely ignored.
The movie is worth seeing based on the actual achievements of "The Mighty Macs" of Immaculata College. Still it is a shame the film did not expand its perspective and bring in the personal stories which would have added so much more flavor.
I scored The Mighty Macs a truth be told 6 out of 10.
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