Uploaded on March 09, 2011 by Schnurpselbacke1 Powered by YouTube
"The Mighty Ducks," a family-minded comedy about a reluctant coach and a rotten hockey team, is certainly better than its title. But it's not in a league with "The Bad News Bears," an obvious model for this story of how one surly grown-up (Emilio Estevez) and a bunch of poorly behaved kids can help build one another's character, and also -- not so coincidentally -- embark on a winning streak.
Part of the impetus behind "The Mighty Ducks" is to show how Gordon Bombay, the obnoxious yuppie lawyer played by Mr. Estevez, abandons the victory-crazy attitude that has given him a vanity license plate reading "JUSTWIN." After Gordon is arrested for driving under the influence, he is sentenced to do community service with peewee hockey players. He then undergoes the predictable change of heart. Adopting a philosophy best described as McZen ("concentration, not strength," he advises his players, prompting one of them to mention "The Karate Kid"), Gordon renounces the cutthroat thinking of his courtroom days.
"We may win, we may not," he tells one boy during an all-important game. "But that doesn't matter, Charlie. What matters is that we're here." The film is remarkably oblivious to the fact that if the team weren't hell-bent on a championship, young moviegoers would be significantly less interested in its adventures.
"The Mighty Ducks," with a screenplay by Steven Brill, takes a solidly by-the-numbers approach to all the expected breakthroughs the team experiences. When Gordon, who was himself a hockey player as a boy, decides to skate again, the film gives him a wise old mentor (Joss Ackland) and a solitary skating scene at dawn. When the Ducks receive enough financing to allow them to buy first-class hockey equipment, there is a frolicsome scene in a sporting goods store, complete with a shot of the cash register and its total.
Some of these episodes have an unduly nasty edge, as when bullies taunt the Ducks or the Ducks try out their new skates by knocking down shoppers at a mall. But what's missing from the film, even during its most rambunctious moments, is a distinct personality. Mr. Estevez gives a low-keyed, likable performance, but like the Ducks themselves, he lacks color. The film's young actors appear to have been chosen more for size (too fat, too tall, etc.) and ethnic mix than for distinct character traits.
As directed by Stephen Herek, "The Mighty Ducks" moves energetically but lacks the enjoyable quirkiness of "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure," which Mr. Herek also directed. The overly pat screenplay includes occasional amusing wisecracks but resorts to such tactics as supplying a childhood wrong for Gordon to right and a friendly single mother (Heidi Kling) to make the team scenes more interesting. The screenplay also includes duck jokes, which wear thin almost immediately. Mr. Estevez is asked not only to rally the troops with a cry of "Look, it's time to play smart hockey -- Duck hockey!," but also to quack angrily at Josef Sommer, who appears briefly as his boss.
Among the film's other duckisms are a hockey maneuver that has the boys skating in a flying V, as if migrating, and Gordon's defiant claim about a rival team. "They know that if they mess with one duck, they gotta mess with the whole flock!" he says, sustaining a straight-faced expression that is nothing short of a miracle.
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