"WILDCATS" IS A slick, fitfully charming little comedy that does nothing to deter those of us bent on being fond of Goldie Hawn forever.
However, she is pushing her luck.
I mean, "Wildcats" -- while a cheery crowd-pleaser and yet another on-field victory for director Michael ("Semi-Tough") Ritchie -- is the third feature in which Our Girl From Takoma Park also has had an off- screen producing role, and the common theme (sort of Hey, She's No Dummy) is beginning to grate. "Private Benjamin" was first and best, being both off the wall and from the heart. But then followed the half- baked "Goldie Goes to Washington," officially titled "Protocol."
And now, this latest skin-deep tale of inner beauty -- "Goldie Kicks Butt," let's call it -- finds Hawn as Molly McGrath, the able but outnumbered ew coach of Central High's Wildcats, a foul-mouthed group of inner-city toughs whose only victory last season came when the opponents' bus broke down -- and whose first full-contact scrimmage blackens one of Guess Who's baby blues.
Well, time heals all wounds. And in most non-risky screenplays, this time is generally no more than four minutes.
Aside from a few moving music-video training sequences, the movie's meat is in its performances -- by Nipsy Russell as Central's comfortably cynical (but chafing-to- cheer) principal, and by James Keach as Molly's squarely sexist ex (who, in one of the film's best scenes, shows up for a heart-to- heart talk in Molly's bathroom -- while she's soaking in the tub).
And, of course, there's Hawn, who puts in a disarmingly dogged and less-dizzy performance as a raised-on-football schoolteacher whose dream of coaching takes a nightmarish turn -- thanks to a spiteful, Dark Ages athletic director, played with disdainful relish by Bruce McGill.
But "Wildcats" is so predictable (and preposterous, whenever the story turns "serious") that afterwards -- despite the appealingly campy, Chicago Bears-inspired football rap over the closing credits -- you might actually regret cheering for the underdog Wildcats in the climactic all-city championships.
Yes, that's right -- the Wildcats make it to the all-city championships.
What a coach, that Goldie. And what a woman.
And what a smart businessperson.
WILDCATS (R) -- At area theaters.