Man, how I would love to meet and interview Goldie Hawn. Meet, interview and thank her, that is. On Friday afternoon, heading into Memorial Day weekend, I was channel-surfing and found an old Goldie Hawn comedy just beginning on one of the HBO channels. WILDCATS was a 1986 release starring Goldie Hawn as a divorced Chicago mother in need of employment who becomes the coach of a football team at an urban Chicago high school. You all know what "urban" means. Lots o' black folks. I remember seeing this movie when it came out. I had a date. The audience loved WILDCATS. It's not a highbrow film and didn't intend to be. It's a light comedy that made the audience happy. My date and I laughed and laughed some more over dinner afterwards. He howled with laughter at the cheerleaders in WILDCATS. So did I. He brought the cheerleader scenes up over dinner. Those memories came rushing been as I watched the movie Friday on HBO. I laughed again at the cheerleaders. Goldie was cute and funny as the coach. Cute, funny -- committed and strong. WILDCATS deserves a second look today. Look at how it differs from the widely popular Chicago-based teen comedies from John Hughes. There's wisdom in WILDCATS.
Even in today's age of "Oscars So White" and Hollywood's obvious need to step up its diversity and inclusion game, WILDCATS feel fresh in its details. There's one big, portly African-American student who's a bookworm. He loves science yet he's also hip. His name is Finch. Compare Finch to Long Duk Dong in SIXTEEN CANDLES. Finch is smart and hefty. Before the film ends, he'll suit up for football action. Finch likes to make money. Here is a black Chicago high school student who has photos of three famous people in his locker -- Marvin Gaye, Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca and Albert Einstein. That visual gave my heart wings when I saw it. An inner city black kid with those three photos in his locker. And his character is not presented as a "dork" or a "geek." He does well in the classroom. The players see him not as "the fat guy," but as a possible asset to the team.
There's a full-figure African-American female student. In a mean girls teen comedy made 20 years later, a girl built like that would've been ridiculed by bitchy slim girls. But in WILDCATS, she's the cute girl. She's the romantic interest of one of the Wildcats.
There's a nice soul to WILDCATS. The diversity is not all spelled out. You're given credit for having the brains to see it for yourself. I loved how, as the seasons progresses, the bleachers go from a having a handful of fans to being filled with spectators both black and white.
And the cheerleaders are an absolute hoot! It's a small cheerleader squad, but those girls can git down!
There were new actors playing Wildcats. Woody Harrelson, Wesley Snipes and Mykelti Williamson (later of FORREST GUMP and FENCES) were on Coach Molly's team.
WILDCATS made me laugh again all these years later. I appreciated the race/gender diversity and inclusion more now than I did back in 1986. It's still relevant. I'll take the Wildcats over Ferris Bueller any day.
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