Movie Time: The Mighty Macs
The Mighty Macs is based on the true story of coach Cathy Rush and the 1972 Immaculata College Women’s Basketball Team.
It was directed by Tim Chambers and features performances by Carla Gugino, Ellen Burstyn, Marley Shelton and David Boreanaz.
She Said: The Mighty Macs
I’m not a big sports fan so I can’t believe that I’m writing the second sports movie review for this site. When we started out we wanted to try to review as many films that were Christian, as well as things that we are interested in. Sometimes I really enjoy Christian movies and then sometimes- well, they aren’t very good. And then other times they are almost painful because I want them to be good. I want to like them. The Mighty Macs has some really good factors but small execution items ultimately bogged it down.
The story is a true story after all so it’s not boring. Cathy Rush is a young coach who tries to breathe life into the basketball team of Immaculata College. Women’s sports still don’t get the same attention and respect that men’s sports get. I can appreciate what a feat it was to attempt to coach a small girls college basketball team in the early 70s. There is also a typical subplot about the fate of the small college. My biggest complaint about the movie is that it’s so slow!!!! It’s so slow we would watch it for about 15 minutes and then RJ would be asleep. The movie is also really quiet, too quiet. We had to watch it on volume 35 and we normally watch television at 21 or 22. Then I was terrified and practically had my eardrums shattered whenever I turned it off. And if you are someone like me who loves to guess and imagine all kinds of scenes from the plot clues you are getting- don’t do that here. You are either reading too much into them and then get disappointed because your ideas where more interesting or you get frustrated because it’s too easy to see coming.
The acting was okay. Carla Gugino had some great moments as coach, Cathy Rush. Marley Shelton was really splendid as basketball coaching nun, Sister Sunday. Ellen Burstyn played Mother St. John and I wonder can she have a bad performance (I don’t think so). The female cast of principal parts was very strong. Most of the young ladies who played the women of the basketball team were fine, there were no standouts. I think that may have been due to the somewhat poor writing of the piece. The worst performance in the film was that of David Boreanaz as Cathy’s husband, Ed. He was always so blah but he also seemed to be hiding something. Is he hiding something? (Well, this is a review and I don’t do spoilers so I can’t tell you.) The acting was fine, it wasn’t anything that I was shocked by the good or bad quality there of. I love Marley Shelton and I thought she was awesome. I’ve been terrified of David Boreanaz since Valentine and I don’t think he can act. He’s just a tall, creepy guy and that’s what he added to this piece.
The costumes in the movie were pretty neat. I love the 70s and I wanted some of Cathy’s wardrobe I thought that the basketball dresses looked like they were perfectly period outdated (like they wouldn’t have been fashionable then).
I really wanted to like this movie. I try to support Christian films that are good but this wasn’t very good. I think the moment in the biggest impact on me was a scene in the locker room where Cathy gives the girls a pep talk. I may not be a big sports fan but I love hearing the talks that coaches give. I used to watch Kenny Chesney’s The Boys of Fall video not just because I love the song but because of hearing what the coaches had to say. Cathy started her speech with
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.”
At first I didn’t recognize that this was a Bible verse and I was amazed it is (1 Corinthians 9:24). Of course it is! It’s the best advice given by the best coach ever. That floored me. There are a lot of movies that you sit through and can’t take anything away from of any real value. Even though The Mighty Macs isn’t the best movie ever, I appreciate it for giving me something few films offer anymore- something I can use in my life right now, just as I am. And I don’t even have to be beautiful or a champion at anything to use that advice right now. It’s not a great movie, but I appreciate that there are worthwhile items to be gleaned The Mighty Macs.
He Said Mighty Macs
I was really excited to see Mighty Macs. I’m always looking for movies that meet our high content standards, and have some good excitement to them. I thought a Christian basketball movie would be really enjoyable.
I fell asleep three times trying to get through this movie. That’s right, three. Give you any indication what I thought about the movie overall?
This movie means well, but it doesn’t get it right very often.
Carla Gugino gives a solid performance as Cathy Rush. She really shows the determination it would take to build a basketball program practically from scratch, and the toll it would take on you personally. The best moments of this movie are her interplay with David Boreanaz playing Ed Rush. The toll her journey and his job took on their marriage is the most interesting subplot you’ll see here.
We don’t however learn very much about the players. We see little bits and pieces, no real backstory emerged for much of the team. Even though it’s based on a true story, the teams transformation doesn’t feel like it ultimately took much at all. I won’t spoil it for you here, but this has been handled much better in countless other sports team movies.
After watching it, I also have a problem with the portrayal of sin in this movie. There is a scene where one of the nuns and Coach Cathy drink alcohol, but it is not to any drunkenness, so I can’t judge there. It could potentially have violated the vow said nun took before God, and that would be wrong, but we don’t have enough information to make that conclusion. I have two problems here. First, is that the nuns are seen reminiscing about how fun it used to be for them to gamble playing cards. The other moment is when one of the nuns lies to protect Cathy from being fired. Gambling and lying are sinful, and while sin does have it’s place in Christian movies, it shouldn’t be to show how you can use sin to your advantage, or how great it used to be when we were able to sin more freely.
The end result is that Mighty Macs fails as a feel good team sports movie, or a Christian movie.