The Mighty Macs

1 h 38 min2011X-RayG
In the 1970s, Cathy Rush becomes the head basketball coach at a tiny, all-girls Catholic college. Though her team has no gym and no uniforms, Coach Rush steers her girls to their first national championship.
Tim Chambers
Carla GuginoMarley SheltonDavid Boreanaz
English [CC]
Audio languages

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Supporting actors
Ellen Burstyn
Whitney SpringerTim Chambers
Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures, LLC
G (General Audience)
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4.7 out of 5 stars

715 global ratings

  1. 78% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 14% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 5% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 1% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 2% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

Transcendental ThomistReviewed in the United States on November 6, 2013
5.0 out of 5 stars
Sweet and uplifting true basketball story
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This movie is like the female version of "Hoosiers," even opening with a similar retro montage where a basketball coach (Carla Gugino) drives to her new school through the countryside, this time a college in Pennsylvania rather than a high school in Indiana. Like "Hoosiers," it's based on the true story of an unlikely basketball championship, this time a 1970s basketball team at a small Catholic women's college in Pennsylvania. It even features the same underlying theme of religion (this time Catholicism rather than Protestantism) as it relates to basketball as a metaphor for life. Knowing this much about the film and having seen the trailer, I was not really expecting much from it, but I was pleasantly surprised to find it highly entertaining. While it may not match "Hoosiers" in the emotional depth of its performances, as it lacks the touching triangle of broken lives (Gene Hackman, Barbara Hershey, and Dennis Hopper) of that 1986 gem, "The Mighty Macs" is refreshing in bringing a lighter touch to this genre. Above all, it works because it treats basketball as a game, not as a pseudo-religious substitute for the divine. Therefore it's a more lighthearted alternative to "Hoosiers" and "Hoop Dreams," but it likewise avoids the cliched melodrama and buffoonish comedy of sports films like Disney's "Glory Road." Carla Gugino makes it work, giving an understated and insistently sincere performance as a Baptist basketball coach hired to coach girls at a small Catholic college in danger of bankruptcy. There are cliched themes, of course, like the independent woman trying to make it in the 1970s and the misfit players learning to work together as a team. But it works because of the good will of the performers to tell this story. Rather than being a schlock production by Disney or some other major studio, this one was produced independently, and it shows in the genuineness of human interactions in the film between the players and among the adults featured. If this inspirational film is ultimately a tad lightweight, perhaps that's because it is reminding us that sports like basketball are ultimately just games, not substitutes or metaphors for real relationships and careers as many people in our society have come to believe. In that sense, I loved this movie, and I think others -- both male and female -- will enjoy it as well if they are open to the idea that sports films based on true stories do not need to imbue their stories with life-or-death implications. This film reminds us that the games we learned in childhood, no matter how much we have come to idolize them as moneymakers, are ultimately for enjoyment rather than profit. Sometimes a game is just a game.
11 people found this helpful
H. BalaReviewed in the United States on September 2, 2012
5.0 out of 5 stars
"The answer lies somewhere between Heaven and the hardwood."
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- The Mother Superior, during her first face-to-face meeting with Cathy Rush: "This is our last ball. Please, uh, don't lose it."

Maybe you'll raise an eyebrow or nudge an elbow when you hear talk of Immaculata College, once an all-women Catholic school, being compared to John Wooden's UCLA dynasty, but, no, it's not balderdash, it's not whistling in the dark. THE MIGHTY MACS tells the remarkable true story of Cathy Rush (Carla Gugino) who, as a woman in her early twenties and with no coaching experience, in 1972 became the head coach of Immaculata's struggling women's basketball team, and never mind that she was the only one to have applied for the position. And in Immaculata, nestled just a bit outside of Philadelphia, is where Cathy Rush made her mark. By the time she was done, Immaculata College was regarded as the birthplace of modern women's basketball. Moments after I saw this flick, I was on the Google, wanting to know more. I was that hooked.

Recognize that the 1970s presented an era in which women were still expected to be stay-at-home wives while the menfolk brought home the bacon, meaning that Cathy Rush was a pioneer in more ways than one. The state of affairs at Immaculata upon her arrival was straight up horrible. Immaculata's basketball program touted no scholarships, no budget, had no uniforms. The gym had burned down some time ago. THE MIGHTY MACS sets up a perfect underdog scenario. And since it's rated G, this really is for the entire family to savor, especially if you have young girls in the household. It's well-executed drama and hits all the right notes. In terms of heart and a knack for rapidly generating that rooting interest, THE MIGHTY MACS is right up there with HOOSIERS. Nostalgia drips from this relevant time capsule.

Carla Gugino can never be on the screen enough. She's so dang beautiful it tends to overshadow the fact that she can act. She's so strong here as Cathy Rush. She captures the coach's relentless personality and her gumption and her flair. I really like those scenes in which she implements her training techniques and attempts to impart life lessons on her doubting players. The film also touches on Cathy's sometimes rocky personal life. David Boreanaz's part as NBA ref and Cathy's hubbie, Ed Rush, is more a supporting one, but Boreanaz is good and ably conveys the mindset of the macho male of that era. Still, you sense that his resistance to Cathy's taking on a job will eventually wilt. Marley Shelton, whom I initially assumed was Amy Acker (from ANGEL), is captivating as the gamine but feisty coach's assistant Sister Sunday. And, as ever, Ellen Burstyn's presence can't help but class up a production even more. Burstyn plays the severe, fretful Mother Superior, at her wits' end over Immaculata's terrible financial plight. She has no idea salvation would come from a marginalized women's sport.

Women's basketball showcases skill and precise execution over rampant athleticism. The oncourt sequences emphasize the philosophy of teamwork, of timely passing and scrappy defense. I found myself enjoying the basketball scenes as much as the acting moments. The girls of the Mighty Macs look convincing on the court, never mind that their uniform comprises an ungainly tunic and a belt sash. The camera makes sure to track the ball from the moment it leaves the girls' fingertips to when it swishes thru the net. These girls know how to play.

***Possible SPOILERS in the paragraph***

In a tumultuous time in which women everywhere were breaking barriers, and specifically in 1972, Cathy Rush came to coach at Immaculata College. And in 1972, against all odds, the Mighty Macs won the inaugural national college women's basketball tournament. And won it again the following year, in 1973. And again in 1974. Imagine what their opponents must've felt during that era, each time they stepped on the hardwood. Not only did they have to play the Macs but they also had to face a horde of nuns actively praying for an Immaculata victory. Heck, maybe Cathy Rush's overwhelming record of 149 wins set against only 15 losses may be attributed to divine intervention more so than uncanny coaching prowess.

The DVD's bonus stuff is pretty absorbing. There are 3 Deleted Scenes, including a cheer from the Immaculata cheerleading squad, composed of enthusiastic elderly nuns (totaling 00:04:42 minutes). The two featurettes - "The Making Of THE MIGHTY MACS" (00:23:48 minutes) and "THE MIGHTY MACS ESPN Segment" (00:06:22 minutes) - provide a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the Immaculata women's basketball dynasty. For example, did you know that the nuns and other Mighty Macs supporters would beat on buckets with a wooden dowel to cheer their team on? And, as an added treat, keep an eye out for cameos from the real Cathy Rush (as a bank teller) and her husband Ed Rush (as an elderly passerby on the sidewalk who donates to the school). There's also a church scene early on in which a row of nuns passes along Cathy's note to a possible recruit. These nuns are none other than the original members of the 1972 Mighty Macs squad.
6 people found this helpful
BobbyneuReviewed in the United States on August 7, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
A feel-good movie but with the classic sports underdog-to-victor theme overlaid.
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The plot line is about the coach at a small-college women's basketball team and her struggles finding finances and players to become a major contender. Based on a true story but the concept strained my credulity enough to be totally entertaining. We watched it twice before the disk broke and I trashed it. The real bonus in the box is that my grandkids liked it, too. The star, Carla Gugino, carried her part well, as expected. She is a journeyman actress, also playing a key role in "San Andreas" playing opposite the Rock's lead. I've become something of a fan after seeing those two movies. She ain't hard on the eyes, either.
2 people found this helpful
JackReviewed in the United States on June 2, 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
Good for any Young Women sport (high school and College)
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I believe the movie could have been longer and more detailed than shoving everything in less than 80 mins.
You don't get attached or even remember the players on the team. Except for Shark and Lizanne (Who didn't exist in real life). They changed the names of the real players and used alternate names yet they kept Coach Rush's name.
Otherwise see it.
2 people found this helpful
Vintage42Reviewed in the United States on February 19, 2012
5.0 out of 5 stars
I Love Women's Basketball
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This was one of the best movies I have ever seen. I am also a male who is a die-hard fan of women's basketball! It is a shame that so many of my fellow males disrespect womens basketball. It is by far the best basketball played. They play the game of basketball the way it should be played. The game of basketball is not about dunking! I would take a women at 5'8 who can hit a bunch of three pointers, over a man at 6'11 who can dunk. The women athlete is growing stronger every year & this movie symbolizes the start of the women athlete movement into college basketball. This movie also has good life lessons. If you work hard & believe in yourself, you can accomplish anything. I hope the people who made this movie make another movie about the founding of the WNBA in 1997. I can't come up with enough words to describe how I feel about this film. All I want to say is thank you to all the women basketball players. You are the best athletes on the earth & I thank each & everyone of you for making basketball a better sport!
6 people found this helpful
Fred B. GonzalesReviewed in the United States on January 28, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Accomplishment of faith, unity & hard work makes miracles
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I believe this picture should be shown to all young females. It’s very inspirational but moreover a demonstration Of equality of dreams. Faith, work, unity & determination can pave the way toward overcoming challenges. It is inspired by the true story of Immaculata college in its early struggles to survive & a group of young women lacking direction & definition in & of their lives and a remarkable young coach, who refuses to give in to insurmountable odds. How redefining her players identities & winning their respect, then the respect of her school, & Mother Superior then the basketball world would lead them to unbelievable heights, it is a story worth knowing.
One person found this helpful
H. S. WedekindReviewed in the United States on June 19, 2012
5.0 out of 5 stars
Everything there is to be said about "The Mighty Macs" has been written here in the previous reviews.
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But I'll repeat them here anyway. This is a heartwarming, inspirational, profanity and sexual innuendo free, cheer for the underdog, family oriented movie. There...I've said it all.

I was lucky enough to be able to borrow this DVD from one of the actors who played in it. His name is Bill Johnson and he has maybe a fifteen second part in "The Mighty Macs" when he points Coach Cathy Rush (Carla Gugino) to where the girls locker-room is, which is not really a locker-room at all just the Ladies Room. Anyway, I watched the movie with my wife and loved it. I asked Bill if I could hold on to the DVD for a few days so I could show it to my daughter, who runs on the same high school cross country team as Bill's daughter, and he said yes.

Since we enjoyed seeing this movie so much, we ordered it from Amazon. We highly recommend "The Mighty Macs." 5 Stars
One person found this helpful
Capt'n BubReviewed in the United States on January 16, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Finally...An exceptional movie about women's sports
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If you like real movies on team sports you will like or love this one. One movie, Miracle, was about an exception team who won a most coveted win in the Olympics. This film is similar in the basketball world for the ladies.
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