What happens if a woman defied the odds and would coach an American football team? The answer lies in this funny sports comedy.
Since she was a kid, Molly McGrath grew up on football, thanks to her dad, who was a coach back in the day. However, as she grew up, she ended up becoming the girls’ track coach at Prescott High. When she learns there is an opening for the junior varsity football coach, she jumps at the opportunity. However, she is denied the position in place of the male home economics teacher. The athletics director and varsity coach, Dan Darwell, lets Molly know she will become a coach, but not where she had hoped.
She has been hired as the varsity football coach at Central High, the worst inner-city school in Chicago. Things at first do not bode well at first between Molly and her new team. However, when she proves herself to be a viable asset, the team struggles at first when it comes to playing. Soon enough, Molly learns a con artist high school student, Bird, is actually an amazing quarterback who could bring the team from underdogs to contenders. With Molly and Bird leading the way, the Wildcats prepare as they could make it to the championships against Molly’s old school.
The sports underdog story is always one to enjoy. When it comes to someone overcoming all to become a champion being motivation and inspiration. It worked for Rocky (the classic boxing flick) and it worked for Hot Shot (a soccer film starring Pele in 1986). This one becomes a double win as it is more about the worst school in the city overcoming their notorious reputation. It is also about a woman who overcomes the odds in a male-dominated sport while disguised as a comedy.
Goldie Hawn (who also produced the film with longtime collaborator Althea Sylbert) is great as Molly McGrath, a divorced woman with the chance to live a childhood dream. We see Molly overcome the odds as a new varsity football coach as she is met at first with a form of what could be now a #MeToo movement when the team introduce themselves by appearing bottomless. However, after besting them in a race in the middle of a rainstorm, she slowly earns their respect. The film would mark the first collaboration between Woody Harrelson (as quarterback Krushinski) and Wesley Snipes (as running back Trumaine). The two would join forces later in the comedy White Men Can’t Jump and the action-comedy Money Train in the 1990s.
We get a glimpse of Molly’s life off the field as well and how her job affects her relationship with her daughters, more Robyn Lively’s older Alice, and her apparently amicable relationship with ex-husband Frank, played by James Keach. There are some twists including the addition of the massive Finch, played by future Police Academy alumnus Tab Thacker and the discovery of conman Bird, played by the future “Bubba Gump”, Mykelti Williamson, as the new quarterback. There are some dramatic moments and emotional moments that smoothly go along with the overall comedic tone of the film. The football scenes are great to watch as well, especially when we see Harrelson giving his own version of “hut” with some obscenities that are laughable.
Wildcats is a funny, at times dramatic and emotional look at how a woman can coach a male-dominated sport and how the team she coaches goes from underdogs to contenders. A fun 80’s sports flick with Goldie Hawn taking the reins.
WFG RATING: A
A Warner Bros. Pictures production. Director: Michael Ritchie. Producer: Althea Sylbert. Writer: Ezra Sacks. Cinematography: Donald E. Thorin. Editing: Richard A. Harris.
Cast: Goldie Hawn, James Keach, Swoosie Kurtz, Nipsey Russell, Bruce McGill, Mykelti Williamson, Jsu Garcia, Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson, Tab Thacker, Jan Hooks, Robyn Lively, Brandi Gold, Willie J. Walton, Rodney Hill.