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The Mighty Macs: Movie Review

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Like so many other inspirational sports movies before it, The Mighty Macs uses a common game (basketball) as a metaphor for something far more important – in this case the equality of dreams.

Set against the backdrop of the early 1970s and the monumental Title IX ruling in college sports, The Mighty Macs tells the story of the 1972 Immaculata College women’s basketball team that rose from obscurity to win three national titles in a row against colleges that dwarfed the Catholic all-girls school in enrollment.

Carla Gugino (Night at the Museum, Entourage) plays Cathy Rush, a plucky young coach who is the only one to apply for a job that no one else seems to want.  The school is struggling financially, there is no athletic budget, and the school’s gym has just burned down the previous spring.  Further complicating matters, Immaculata’s Mother Superior (Ellen Burstyn) seems more interested in trying to figure out how to keep the college open than hiring a basketball coach.

Let the Cinderella story begin.  Comprised of local girls from the Philadelphia area, Rush assembles a team that seems a bit reluctant in taking on the challenges of a grueling season.  Everything seems to be stacked against them including the scratchy, wool dresses they are forced to wear as uniforms.  But like the story of David and Goliath, the resilient Mighty Macs figure out a way to win.

A telling line from the movie is when a player questions Rush’s desire to coach a squad that seems to have virtually everything working against it.  “She already has a husband.  Why would she want to work?”

Marley Shelton (Pleasantville) plays Sister Sunday, a young nun who is trying to determine whether she has made the right decision to follow this holy path of life.  She soon finds her answer when she meets Coach Rush.  She becomes the coach’s confidant and assistant coach. 

In a highly underdeveloped role, David Boreanaz (Bones) plays Ed Rush, Cathy’s NBA referee husband.  While he certainly brings a welcome element of masculinity to the movie, his role is mostly relegated to cheering for Cathy and her team from the stands in wide-collared tweed suits. 

Making his directorial debut, Philadelphia native Tim Chambers does a commendable job of weaving together the various elements of this rags (in this case heavy wool uniforms) to riches sports story.  With just enough compelling game action sprinkled with dancing nuns, Chambers keeps the story moving along to its predictable conclusion – they win against all odds!

Christian viewers might be disappointed that The Mighty Macs does not carry a strong call to action as other faith based movies (Courageous) of the recent past have.  In a recent interview with, Chambers was quick to point out that it was not his intent to make this type of movie.  He only wanted to tell an inspirational story about a team who overcame great odds to achieve success on the hardwood.

The Mighty Macs, which has been jokingly called “Hoosiers Meets Sister Act” is a warm, family friendly film that is safe for the young and old.  There is nothing offensive, it is inspirational, and most importantly shares a forgotten story in the history of sport that is worthy of being told.

For families with young female athletes, The Mighty Macs shares a simple message that speaks volumes: don’t be afraid to follow your dreams.

Just wish the movie hadn’t been so predictable.

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About The Author


Chris Carpenter is the program director for, the official website of the Christian Broadcasting Network. He also serves as executive producer for myCBN Weekend, an Internet exclusive webcast show seen on In addition to his regular duties, Chris writes extensively for the website. Over the years, he has interviewed many notable entertainers, athletes, and politicians including Oscar winners Matthew McConaughy and Reese Witherspoon, evangelist Franklin Graham, author Max Lucado, Super Bowl winning coach Tony Dungy and former presidential hopefuls Sen. Rick Santorum and Gov. Mike