Grade:  B/B-
Rated R

One of my guilty pleasures recently came out on Blu-ray:  Wildcats, starring Goldie Hawn. You know, Kate Hudson’s mom?

Back in the day, Hawn was a huge star, and it didn’t take her long to get there. After a failed TV series (Good Morning World) and two minor roles in films, she landed a plum role opposite Walter Matthau in Cactus Flower and won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Piece of cake, right? Except that after that she was cast in a succession of make-a-buck films that tried to capitalize on her popularity and personality in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

Along with Private Benjamin (1980), Seems Like Old Times  (1980), and Overboard (1987), Wildcats is one of the better formulaic light comedies that Hawn made. In it, she plays the daughter of high school football coach who finally gets the chance to realize her own dream of coaching football . . . at an inner city school.

Right . . . to use the catch-phrase of comedian Nipsey Russell, who plays the principal at that school.

Wildcats would be fun viewing for the entire family if it wasn’t rated R for language (F-bombs included), teen drinking and drunkenness, and brief nudity, because the whole high-school setting and fish-out-of-water, win-them-over storyline is meant to be as upbeat and warm-hearted as it is humorous. It’s hard not to root for Molly as she endures sexism in the workplace, resentment and disrespect from her players, and meddling/bullying from an ex-husband en route to trying to coach a bunch of losers into lovable winners.

Hawn is at her best when she’s immersed in reactive comedy, and there are plenty of talented actors for her to play off of, including veteran actor Bruce McGill (Rizzoli & Isles). McGill plays the obnoxious varsity coach at a well-off school who takes delight in demeaning others and, in the case of Molly, setting her up for failure as a practical joke. But of course the joke is on him, and you know almost from the beginning that this guy is going to get his comeuppance, and that the third act will probably turn on a David and Goliath match-up between Coach Darwell’s “haves” and Coach Molly’s “have nots.”

Predictable? You bet—but still enjoyable, especially when we get to see a young Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson as two of her players, while Forrest Gump fans might recognize a younger, cooler “Bubba” as another of the young and cocky athletes, played by Mykelti Williamson (Fences, Chicago P.D., Justified). Wildcats was released just a year after the Chicago Bears won the Super Bowl and legions of fans with their trophy case full of quirky personalities. So it’s almost a no-brainer that we would get a William “The Refrigerator” Perry character—in this case, Tab Thacker as Finch, who only plays for money, and it doesn’t matter which team pays him. Hawn further alludes to the ’85 Bears with a video of Coach Molly and her players singing, “It’s the sport of kings, better than diamond rings . . . football.”

Wildcats isn’t just a comedy of character. There are also some very funny laugh-out-loud lines. Unfortunately, most of those LOL lines are R-rated, which makes this comedy suitable for older teens only. Call it a more adult version of The Bad News Bears or a comic riff on Hoosiers. . . . and the kind of lighthearted romp that defined Hawn’s acting career.


Entire family: No
Run time: 106 min. (Color)
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 widescreen
Featured audio: DTS-HDMA Stereo
Studio/Distributor: Shout! Factory
Bonus features: C+
Amazon link
Rated R for language, brief nudity, rude humor

Language:  6/10—Around 6 or so f-bombs, including mother*cker, but in all cases they’re used for comic effect, as are the lesser profanities

Sex:  5/10—Hawn’s breasts are briefly shown in the bathtub, and her players appear nude with helmets strategically placed; there are also a handful of sexual references, and one couple is implied to have been caught “doing it” on the couch (but they are fully clothed and nothing is shown)

Violence:  3/10—People get punched, but aside from football players doing their thing that’s about it

Adult situations:  4/10—There is drinking at player parties, and an underage girl gets drunk

Takeaway:  Wildcats will seem tame by today’s standards, but the R rating still applies and the movie remains a guilty pleasure for yours trulyand I’m sure I’m not the only one