Based on the real-life women’s-hoops coach Cathy Rush, The Mighty Macs appears to have been made on a budget equivalent to the cost of a WNBA fleece hoodie. But even at that price, the first feature by Tim Chambers is profligate with sports-movie clichés. Happily agreeing to a salary of $450 for the 1971–72 season, Cathy (Carla Gugino), a young bride married to an NBA referee, turns the sad squad at run-down, single-sex, Catholic Immaculata College into victors, primarily by asking rhetorical questions such as “Who here likes to win?” and “How much are you willing to sacrifice?” Yet despite its unrelenting corniness, The Mighty Macs admirably tries to honor the achievements of second-wave feminism. Always a trooper, Gugino brings dignity and energy to the affirmation-spouting bio-doodle she plays, striding proudly onto the court in butterfly collars and snug blazers (about the only period detail attended to). Although the young women she coaches remain blurs, Cathy does form a strong bond with a nun (Marley Shelton), and finally wins over the abbess (Ellen Burstyn)—proving, however literally, that sisterhood really is powerful.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 19, 2011