I love the Mighty Ducks trilogy. I really do. The Ducks movies are, for the uninitiated, a series of Disney movies about kids playing hockey. Their coach? EMILIO ESTEVEZ. Can’t really go wrong, right?
The first Mighty Ducks saw Gordon Bombay (Estevez) taking over coaching duties of a local pee wee hockey team as a condition of his community service over a drunk driving arrest. At first he hates the idea but, of course, he grows to love the team and christens them the “Ducks.” The team eventually goes on to win their regional championship and all is right in the world. D2 picks up a few months later when, for some reason, the Ducks are chosen to represent the USA at the ‘Junior Goodwill Games.’ A sort of Olympics for kids. A few kids from around the country are tossed in to round out the team and Bombay is again coaching. This time they’re fighting hockey teams from all over the world, including their biggest challenge thus far: Iceland. With their dick of a coach. This movie also deals with Coach Bombay’s learning that he doesn’t need fame like he needs the Ducks. At the end of the day, as this IS a Disney movie, the Ducks are victorious once again and are now WORLD champion hockey players.
Surely that’s where this should all end, right? They’ve literally beaten the best on the planet. The only way up from here is to play intergalactic hockey or something. Or do what Disney did. Send them to high school and make them the JV Hockey Team. They went from regional champs, to world champs, to JV hockey kids getting punked out by a bunch of high school seniors.
What’s worse? About 5 minutes in Bombay bails, leaving the Ducks with their new coach. He’s not too fond of the Ducks and tries to tear them down in an effort to rebuild them. He strips Charlie (Again played by that troublemaker from Dawson’s Creek, Joshua Jackson) of his Captain title and works the Ducks into the ground. Good times!
It’s not all a big downer, though. In between times the Ducks engage in a prank war with the Varsity. All kinds of fun pranks involving bugs, feces, liquid nitrogen…You know, good teenage fun. And, of course, there’s a girl. Charlie’s smitten with some chick who hates sports, team names, and guy stuff. She loves pizza, though.
As good as this movie could have been, on the heels of two pretty decent kid hockey flicks, it just isn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy watching it…But not because it’s a good movie. It falls into the elusive ‘bad good’ category…Not bad when you’re an adult watching it, but as a kid watching it’s just flat-out confusing. At the end of the day the movie becomes less about building up the team, and more of a coming of age tale for Charlie, who is starting to like girls and rebel against authority. The movies had always been about Bombay teaching the Ducks, while they teach him. This one is more about Charlie slowly and clumsily becoming a responsible young adult…Eventually with the help of Bombay. A coming of age tale about a teen hockey player isn’t a bad idea, it has potential. But don’t package it in a Mighty Ducks wrapper. I like the Mighty Ducks movies and want a proper sequel. Or just end it at 2. That said, I’m totally ready for it to be rebooted now. Who will this generation’s Goldberg be?