The Mighty Macs
DVD Review by Kam Williams
True Tale of Female Empowerment Released on DVD
When Cathy Rush (Carla Gugino) was hired to coach basketball at tiny Immaculata College back in the early Seventies, athletics were a low priority at the all-female, Catholic institution. It didn’t even have a functional gym, so the team had to host its home games at a nearby high school.
Initially, the new coach didn’t get any sympathy from the administration about the inconvenience, since the college was dealing with some serious financial problems. Furthermore, the Mother Superior (Ellen Burstyn) only valued sports as a way of suppressing the girls’ raging hormones.
But Rush was never discouraged by the lack of support or by the disadvantage of having a student body of fewer than 500. So, joined on the bench by dedicated assistant, Sister Sunday (Marley Shelton), she proceeded to forge a competitive squad, placing an emphasis on teamwork and sound fundamentals. And by the end of the 1972 season, little-known Immaculata had blossomed into a respected powerhouse in contention for the national title.
That unlikely assault on the championship is the subject of The Mighty Macs, an overcoming-the-odds sports flick reminiscent of such basketball classics as Hoosiers, Glory Road and Coach Carter. This similarly-themed adventure chronicles the miracle season of a motley crew of underdogs inspired to overachieve with the help of a devoted, no-nonsense coach.
What makes this hoops saga unique is the fact that its hero is a female at a pivotal moment in the emergence of women’s intercollegiate athletics. In 2008, the real-life Cathy Rush was rightfully recognized as a pioneer for her pivotal contributions by being inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
A touching, tale of female empowerment serving as a worthwhile reminder that girls weren’t always encouraged to play sports.
Very Good (3 stars)
Running time: 100 Minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures Home entertainment
DVD Extras: Deleted scenes; The Making of The Mighty Macs; and The Mighty Macs ESPN segment.