Movies I Love- D2: The Mighty Ducks (1994)

Ducks Fly Together!

Sports Movies are seemingly coming back to vogue especially after the recent success of “Moneyball”, “The Blind Side” and the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary series.

I saw a recent trailer of a movie called “Goon” which is a raunchy comedy about a Hockey “Goon”. Non-Hockey watchers, Goons are essentially protectors of a team’s best player. If an opponent tried to take out their star. Goons will beat the shit out of that opposing player to hinder that from happening

The movie from the trailer looks really, really good definitely some shades of “Slap Shot” in it. “Slap Shot” is one of the top 3 sports movies of all time about a Hockey team coached by it’s senior player, Paul Newman who beat the crap out of the opposing teams. Great for sports and non-sports fans.

It’s my favorite Hockey movie.

My 2nd Hockey Movie is the 2nd movie of the “Mighty Ducks” trilogy. The movie like “Rocky IV” raised the stakes in terms of sequels taking preposterous turns and yet still becoming fascinating kinda like Charlie Sheen losing his shit after getting fired from “Two and a Half Man”.

While the first “Mighty Ducks” movie was in vein of Walter Matthau’s “Bad News Bears” except this was a rag-tag team of Hockey playing misfit kids (as opposed to baseball) with Emilio Estevez as their coach, Gordon Bombay who used to be a great player as a kid after being forced into Community Service for a DUI.

“D2” was “The Miracle on Ice”, and  “Rocky’s III and IV” realized on the Hockey Rink with tweens playing for a gold medal than the entire world and no avenging the death of Apollo  Creed. With the ragtag Ducks joining some of the best rag-tag skilled American player (One guy can skate faster than anyone but can’t stop, a figure skater, a female goalie, a Cowboy who can handle the puck better than Joe Sakic, and even a Goon) to beat the Unbeatable Jr. Iceland Hockey Team (they have facial hair and are coached by a Goon!) in the Junior Goodwill Games as Team USA.

Mind you, Iceland is not known at all for it’s hockey. I guess the screenwriter and Disney were scared to make it “Russia” (a dominant Hockey power) despite the Cold War being over, so the russkies can pay rubels to see the movie at it’s local multiplex in Minsk and there is nothing really menacing about making it Canada instead.

The Old and New Ducks gel quickly (or 7 movie minutes after a scene of 1-2 practices) while their coach Gordon Bombay reaping the success (Seriously, a junior kids Hockey coach is not going to be raking in sponsor dough, what bullshit yet I still bought it) and sells out to team sponsors for money and recognition he always wanted and dominate their opponents until they have to face Iceland in the preliminary rounds.

They like Apollo Creed against Drago in “Rocky IV” get destroyed by Iceland except  no Ducks were killed in this movie like Apollo Creed. Gordon Bombay immediately loses his shit almost like NBA coach Pat Riley when his hair gel runs out and puts them through hell in practice.

A bunch of street hockey kids from LA call out the Ducks for playing without heart and the grit that made them great similarly to Apollo Creed calling out Rocky Balboa for losing the “Eye of the Tiger” when he got his ass kicked by Mr. T in “Rocky III” and challenge them to a street game.

There the Ducks get back their “Eye of the Tiger” (though Disney didn’t want to shell out the dough to license the song for the movie).

They also make a discovery when one of the street kids, a wise-ass named Russ Tyler who has an incredible trick shot called the “Knucklepuck” in which the puck has this insane drop making it hard for a goalie to stop and recruit him to join the team taking the place of the team prodigy/cakeater Adam Banks who injures his wrist and didn’t tell anyone cause he wanted to impress scouts. He’s kinda like a less douchy version of Kobe Bryant though still a Cakeater.

Gordon Bombay also rediscovers his true self and no longer sells out to “The Man”. Word. He gets the Ducks back to their old ways while also embracing the new players skills and they roll through the medal round playoffs. Yes, it’s done as a montage.

They end up getting one more shot to beat Iceland in the Gold Medal Game.

Before the game, they decide instead of having a final practice to have some fun and be relaxed. This gets broken up by the Iceland team who’s there to practice. Iceland’s evil Drago-like coach, Wolf “The Dentist” Stansson challenges Bombay to 3-bar which is a Hockey Game like Horse in which you have to hit the pucks off the 3-bars of the goals.

One subplot worth mentioning, Gordon Bombay is hooking up with the hot female Iceland team trainer. That Hot, Evil Icelandic Jezebel!

The skilled Bombay clearly is besting Stansson until Stansson being the goon he was nails Bombay with a cheapshot almost causing a fight until they back-off and decide to settle it on the ice. I wanted Emilio to punch that dude.

The game happens and initially it looks like Iceland is going to destroy them. They   bully the Ducks around and hover around the Russ Tyler to make sure he doesn’t get the “Knucklepuck” off.

Bombay then delivers a inspiring speech (I mean duh, are they going to comeback with an uninspiring speech) about reminding the players that they represent their homes and the USA. The Ducks comeback in the game usually their ragtag skills and embracing the street hockey style they learned.

The pivotal goal of the game happens, when recognizing Iceland won’t allow Russ Tyler to get his “knucklepuck” off. Bombay and his player/assistant coach Charlie (Joshua Jackson aka Pacey from “Dawson’s Creek”) call a timeout and come up with a plan I would argue should’ve  been a penalty in a non-movie hockey game.

They have Russ switched jerseys with their Goalie, completely fooling the Iceland team and allowing him to get his “knucklepuck” off and he scores!

The game is decided via Shootout, where it’s pretty even in the end until a recovered Adam Banks scores the goal to put the Ducks ahead and Bombay changes goalies from his starter Goldberg, to Julie “The Cat” Gaffney (the girl goalie, she was a crush of mine as a kid) for the final shot.

Which is bullshit if you ask me! Goldberg got you to this moment and you bench him! This is not a gender thing, by the way! Poor Fat Dude Goalie played how many minutes in the tournament and he can’t stop the last shot!?

Bombay immediately knows what the final Iceland shooter and their best player will do to score on her and tells where he is going to shoot cause he knows he’s an arrogant prick kinda like Penguins All-Star Sidney Crosby.

Bombay guesses right! TEAM USA DUCKS WIN! (By the way, as part of clever product placement, Disney who had bought the Anaheim NHL expansion franchise had the Ducks wear their jerseys for the movie)

The defeated Iceland players and their coach shake the Ducks hands and are gracious in defeat. The Secret Cold War between USA and Iceland Tweens has ended in a Hockey Rink.

The movie’s final scenes has the Ducks camping in Minnesota in a bonfire singing Queen’s “We are the Champions” (They could afford the rights to that song!)

The End.

I know people my age probably remember this movie, I mean it’s freaking awesome! It has Emilio Estevez and Pacey for chrissake! Give it a go, they actually air it on Showtime a lot recently 😉 Quack! Quack!

-V. for Vinnie

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