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With Jim Sabatini

The Mighty Macs

The Mighty Macs
Carla Gugino, Ellen Burstyn and Marley Shelton

Rated: G 
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: October 21, 2011 Released by: Freestyle Releasing

This hearty underdog of women's basketball circa 1971 is old-fashioned, earnest entertainment. Having been shelved for about a couple of years before making a lay-up prior to the college basketball season might be profitable, seemingly more so than the negotiations during a prolonged NBA lockout.
The Mighty Macs will spend much less time in theaters than a WNBA season, but shows how a rag-tag-out Catholic school's team of destiny helped to empower the sport.
Suburban Philadelphia's Immaculata College was a school at the time struggling to keep its doors open for education when Cathy Rush (Carla Gugino) turned out to be the only candidate for the coaching job. You can imagine how scarce the resources were for Cathy who basically worked for nothing. That includes a gym with no court side.
To "harvest the glory" she'll have to deal with the firm Mother Superior (a somewhat standard-issue if elegant Ellen Burstyn) and players (rote characters) who aren't into her semi-feminist mindset. From her and a nun who becomes her assistant coach (Marley Shelton) some of the Bible instruction rubs off on the new no-nonsense coach. The road to success against established schools isn't easy of course as practice drills include the use of oven mitts. 
Director Tim Chambers does what he can on a paltry budget to underline how an institution like this can be a microcosm for societal change. Obviously, it can't make the kind of impact on a cinematic level, say, that A League Of Their Own was able to do. In this manipulative family-friend sister-hoops-act, "The Mighty Macs" makes its points through much narration and pep-talking as Gugino seems to fit well into the early part of the women's movement. She has good rapport with Shelton as both are polar opposites to other roles as in Sin City. David Boreanaz has a smallish role as Cathy's husband, an NBA official.
The idea of having a go-get mentality, to realize your aspirations is a history lesson common to those in the Basketball Hall of Fame and depicted well-enough here with some easy, if hackneyed virtue to impress girls and their mothers alike, as well as those absorbed by the teachings of the Bible (read David vs. Goliath). Another reminder of where and how far women have come in a sport dominated by men.

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