The Mighty Macs

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
The Mighty Macs Movie Poster Image
Tame girls' basketball tale is sentimental but inspiring.
  • G
  • 2011
  • 97 minutes

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

It's educational for young viewers, especially girls, to realize that it wasn't always a priority for girls' athletic teams to exist, much less compete nationally.

Positive Messages

Several positive messages, particularly for girls. The fact that Cathy, despite being married, chooses to take a coaching job to pursue her passion for basketball shows that women don't need to rely on a husband to fulfill all their dreams. Cathy's perseverance in the face of difficulty is also an example that you should never give up, even when things aren't going your way. The girls' commitment to the Macs is an important lesson in teamwork and collaboration. The fact they're willing to wake up early, sweat, and give it their all is what sports -- and discipline -- should be about for kids.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Coach Rush is an amazing example of an educator who inspires and makes a huge difference in her team's lives. Without Coach Rush and Sister Sunday's dedication to the Macs, those girls never would have won a national championship or gone on to become famous college and WNBA and high school coaches themselves. The girls each learn the value of belonging to a team, even an underdog team.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff

A few hugs and one quick kiss between a married couple, and a tame discussion about marriage and weddings. One character has her heart broken, but her boyfriend is never seen in the film. A nun out of her habit accepts a beer from an interested pub patron.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Cathy and Sister Sunday each have a pint at a pub.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this family-friendly sports tale is based on the true story of Cathy Rush, who coached the basketball team of a tiny Catholic women's college near Philadelphia to national glory. There's nothing objectionable in this G-rated drama, but there are a couple of themes that may go over the head of very young viewers, like the mentions of feminism and marriage and college financing. But the actual story of the girls' practicing, becoming a cohesive team, and competing against area rivals should inspire kids to keep working hard to achieve their own athletic and personal goals, even if the odds don't seem in their favor.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 5, 5, 8, 12, 13, and 15-year-old Written bycraftygirl202 December 28, 2012

Mighty Macs Really Are Mighty

I watched this movie last year and thought it would be bad but I was definitely wrong. This movie is aspiring and unpredictable and I think it is a good feel-go... Continue reading
Parent of a 8-year-old Written byhappymom9 November 17, 2011

Mighty Mac-nificent!

We took our eight-year-old daughter to see "The Mighty Macs" and we all loved it. There were quite a few of us in the theater who cheered out loud fo... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byrusticsky March 8, 2021

Not of much substance, but entertaining enough

I honestly don't think I would've found this as enjoyable had Carla Gugino not been the lead. She had this movie carrying on her shoulders. It's... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old February 22, 2013

The Mighty Macs Review

This was a very good movie. It is a little intense in its meaning. I feel like ages 8 and up would understand. This is a terrific movie.

What's the story?

Former collegiate basketball player Cathy Rush (Carla Gugino) takes a job building and coaching the basketball team of Immaculata, a tiny Catholic women's college near Philadelphia. As she begins to train the "Macs" for competition, Coach Rush receives invaluable help from a young nun, Sister Sunday (Marley Shelton), although the college's head nun, Mother St. John (Ellen Burstyn), is preoccupied with the college's dire finances. As the Macs go on a miraculous winning streak, they gain support from the administration and even Rush's husband, a professional NBA ref (David Boreanaz).

Is it any good?

Most sports movies are both inspirational and overly sentimental, and THE MIGHTY MACS is no exception on either count. In some ways, it's yet another example of the way that women in sports are relegated to the second string. If this story were about a pioneering men's team, chances are it would have had a major studio backing it, a considerable budget, and a period soundtrack filled with memorable tunes. Instead, Gugino has to carry the weight of the film accompanied by mostly unknown young actresses and a maudlin script of over-the-top pep talks.


But despite the constant and effusive "we're No. 1!" speeches, there's a definite charm and a powerful message to this movie that's good for girls to witness. What's more, it's refreshing to see nuns who aren't played for laughs or portrayed as unflinchingly stern instructors; instead, they're kind cheerleaders who genuinely care for the young women at their college. No, this isn't the equivalent of Hoosiers or Remember the Titans, but Gugino and her team are the kind of typically irresistible underdogs that you can't help but root for.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about women in sports. Why do you think there are more movies about men's teams than women's teams?

  • How far have women come since the early 1970s? How are women athletes more commonly accepted today?

  • Which characters in this movie are role models? How can you tell?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sports

Themes & Topics

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