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The Independent Critic

STARRING
Carla Gugino, Marley Shelton, David Boreanaz, Ellen Burstyn
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
Tim Chambers
MPAA RATING
Rated PG
RUNNING TIME
102 Mins.
DISTRIBUTED BY
Sony
DVD EXTRAS
  • The Making of The Mighty Macs
  • The Mighty Macs ESPN Segment
  • Deleted Scenes
 "Mighty Macs" Review 
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"The Mighty Macs," written and directed by Tim Chambers, received its world premiere as an Official Selection during the 2009 Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis Indiana. Starring Carla Gugino ("American Gangster") as Basketball Hall of Fame Coach Cathy Rush, "The Mighty Macs" is the story of how the rookie coach took a ragtag team of women's college basketball players from Immaculata College in Pennsylvania to the first ever women's basketball NCAA Championship in 1972.

Rush, at the time having recently married NBA referee Ed Rush and having grown up in a basketball household, had been a college basketball star and despite numerous setbacks became the women's basketball coach at Immaculata, a tiny and nearly bankrupt Catholic College for women in the early 1970's where basketball was primarily seen as a way to help the young ladies keep their hormones under control.

Filmed in the spirit of such flicks as "Hoosiers" and "Glory Road," "The Mighty Macs" was filmed on location in Pennsylvania including a significant amount of footage on the grounds of what is now Immaculata University. a now coed institution. Virtually every moment of "The Mighty Macs" feels natural and authentic, perhaps explaining why Immaculata University and Rush signed off on the project after years of rejecting scripts and film ideas.

In most ways, "The Mighty Macs" is your stereotypical feel good sports flick complete with inspirational characters, obligatory adversaries, insurmountable obstacles and, of course, triumph against the odds. Yet, "The Mighty Macs" transcends its formulaic nature thanks to a witty, heartfelt script from Tim Chambers and solid performances from Carla Gugino, Marley Shelton as a young nun questioning her vows who becomes the team's assistant coach and Oscar-winner Ellen Burstyn as Immaculata's then Mother St. John, then head of the college.

Filmed on a modest budget just under $7 million, "The Mighty Macs" also clearly benefits from having none other than Pat Croce, self-made millionaire and former owner of the Philadelphia 76ers, as its Executive Producer. Indeed, the film's entire creative team practically shouts out its dedication and the film even includes cameo appearances by both Cathy and Ed Rush as well as the entire starting five players from Immaculata's 1972 women's basketball team.

As is fairly typical for these ensemble sports flicks, the action/sports scenes work better than the scenes involving human drama. Tech credits are generally solid across the board, though it's worth noting that the screening copy shown during the Heartland Film Festival's second screening of the film was plagued by a few sound mix issues that will likely be worked out before the film goes into wider distribution.

There are few solid films to inspire and motivate young female athletes, and "The Mighty Macs" is unquestionably among the upper echelon of the films that do exist. While "The Mighty Macs" is formulaic and its resolution a touch too pat, it's a story that inspires with pleasing and winning performances from the entire cast of this family-oriented, feel good film.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic
    The Official Rating Guideline
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