Title: The Mighty Macs

Director: Tim Chambers

Starring: Carla Gugino, Ellen Burstyn, Marley Shelton, David Boreanaz, Katie Hayak

There is a very simple game plan when depicting a sports-drama and very few films will deviate from that said game plan. And the same goes for The Mighty Macs; a true story that gives a glimpse into the meteoric rise of basketball Hall-of-Famer Cathy Rush.

Cathy Rush (Carla Gugino) spent most of her days being the prototypical housewife in her marriage to NBA referee Ed Rush (David Boreanaz). Wanting to break away from the monotony of daily chores, she applies for the head coaching gig at Immaculata – an all catholic girl’s school with a student body of under five-hundred. In the grand scheme of women’s college hoops, Immaculata is barely a blip on the radar. So that’s why the head nun (Ellen Burstyn) easily grants Rush the job even though the school has no official gym and a non-existent budget. Money is so tight that the school itself may need to close its doors by the end of the year.

Absorbing all of this – and not being phased one bit – Rush begins to assemble a team that mirrors who her own personality. The firm coach, who rocks a pair of high-heels and presents herself as a classy business woman at all practices & games, refurbishes areas on campus to hold practices; finds a way to make out-of-date equipment work; and orchestrates all the unique characters on her team to perform as a cohesive unit. Eventually the team nobody heard of – and some officials do not want and/or understand – is now ready to go for it all on the big stage, even though the threat of having the school disappear at any given moment looms in the ever pressing background.

This is basically the female version of the 1986 sport classic, Hoosiers (you’ll probably read that in a hundred other reviews). Carla Gugino’s portrayal of the “coach that doesn’t fit in” is essentially the same character arc as Gene Hackman’s seen in the above mentioned Indiana high school basketball drama. And that’s just fine since Gugino showcases a nice charisma and finds the perfect pitch for the character. On the other hand, the similar delivery – as seen in other sports tales – negates any real drama or emotion for the audience to take in. While it is nice to see them (the team) get this thing together, there isn’t anything that one can’t see coming. Just like one must always execute the fundamentals in basketball, this script does the same but nothing more. So in keeping with the basketball analogy; the movie does what its asked to do like any good role player off the bench, yet it doesn’t have that superstar to shake-up the entertainment levels and do something extraordinary.

The only flaw in this nice script is the pacing is all over the place. Sometimes the story is in a rush which is noticeable during the in-game depictions – where the action is not half-bad by the way. Other moments seem to want to build on the character development but the shot-clock runs out on every scene before the full storytelling mechanic can be realized. This plays like an hour documentary on ESPN rather than an engrossing bio-pic/sports drama. Which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when this 104 minute flick is just covering a roughly four-to-five month period. It just seems like there should have been more to it. The purpose does get across, but the same can’t be said for any apparent message besides what’s on the surface.

From a setting and/or atmosphere perspective; the tone of the feel-good story is on-point. The costuming, set designs (small courts, campus life, etc.) are executed in an authentic manner. The acting by all the girls on the team each vary just enough – in limited screen time – to provide interesting characters to follow along on this brisk journey. Gugino is obviously in the spotlight and carries this all the way through but does get an assist from her young assistant coach/co-star, Sister Sunday (Marley Shelton); who provides a few comical moments when interacting in the strict catholic setting.

Overall, The Mighty Macs is formulaic in every sense of the genre it plays in. Still, the placement of the quasi-intriguing story can keep one invested in the predictable outcome. It’s all about the fundamentals here folks.

Technical: C+

Story: C+

Acting: B

Overall: C+

Review by Joe Belcastro

Mighty Macs

By Joe Belcastro

Joe Belcastro is an established movie critic in Tampa, Florida. As a member of the Florida Film Critics Circle, most of his time is spent reviewing upcoming movies. He also covers news pertaining to the film industry, on both a local and national level as well as conducting interviews. To contact Joe Belcastro regarding a story or with general questions about his services, please e-mail him and/or follow him on Twiiter @TheWritingDemon.

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