I know we’re meant to be complaining about the fact that Hollywood is obsessed with remakes, reboots, and sequels these days. However, I can’t help but be a little bit excited about the new Mighty Ducks series that’s starting on Disney+ tomorrow. For one thing, I’ve always had a soft spot for Emilio Estevez. He’s one of my favourite members of the Brat Pack. I can’t help it; I love him. For another, I bloody love The Mighty Ducks franchise. Yes, the third one is awful in comparison to the rest but there’s still some fun to be had. As a trilogy, it’s brilliant viewing. To prepare myself for the new episodes, I decided that I had to go back to where it all started.
Let me get one thing out of the way before I carry on with this review: The Mighty Ducks 2 is a much better film than the first one. It’s got a better story, more memorable characters, and is generally much more confident. It’s not that the first one is bad but the second one is just so much better. So, why am I watching the first one and not the second? Well, it seemed to make sense. It will remind me of where it all started, and it has been a while since I watched it. I’m so much more familiar with the sequel that I forget parts of the first.
Like the fact that Gordon Bombay started off as a lawyer. I’m so used to him being an ex-hockey player in the second film that I forget the rest of his backstory. That until this film, Bombay had only played hockey as a boy. After a missed shot during the State Championship, Gordon gave up on the sport and became a lawyer. A competitive lawyer who does whatever it takes to win. Something that doesn’t help him when he ends up with a DUI.
Luckily for Gordon, he manages to walk away with community service. Community service that puts him in charge of a struggling hockey team. The kids don’t know what they’re doing and haven’t won a game. It’s going to take a lot of work, but Gordon isn’t interested. He still has nightmares about his past and does everything but teach the kids how to play. Can he fight his demons in time to help the kids to victory? Or will they end up being the losers that everyone thinks they are?
I don’t know why I’m pretending that there’s any real mystery to this. The Mighty Ducks is a traditional sports movie that follows the same cliched path. It starts with a team of underdogs that nobody believes in but, eventually, they come start to surprise everyone. All it takes is a few training montages and some inspirational chats. Is it going to win awards for originality? No. Is it the best sports film ever made? No. But does that matter? I don’t think so.
Let’s be honest, you don’t watch a film like The Mighty Ducks because you think it’s going to break down barriers. You don’t go into this expecting to be wowed by the script or amazed by the performances. This isn’t meant to be a piece of art. It’s meant to be fun. You can criticise this film for being predictable but it knows what it is. It never had any higher ambitions than that. It does what it needs to. No, this isn’t a film that takes any real chances but so what? It’s still entertaining. There’s a lot of fun to be had and there’s a lot of comfort in its predictability. Most importantly, and a key to all of these films, you like these characters and you want them to win. I guess what I’m really saying is, I’d be proud to fly with any one of them.