This was a guest review submitted by Seth Middleton. Thanks Seth! You can submit your own reviews to SquidFlicks here.
The appeal of family oriented sport movies were a big staple in the 90’s which stemmed back from the origins that The Bad News Bears started in the 70’s. For whatever reason there wasn’t a backlog of ripoffs or knock offs of this product during that era for whatever reason. When the 80’s ushered in it was a time of fantasy films for kids and it was still laid to rest.
Then the floodgates opened and I think this film was one of the first to try it out and succeeded. There were plenty of sport related comedies, dramas, and fantasies for the adults. So Disney probably thought: What about the kids? Baseball’s been done. Lets try hockey. Thus THE MIGHTY DUCKS hatched.
The formula is simple, underdog pee wee league of a ragtag bunch of mouthy impressionable urban kids in Minnesota come together to pull off a feat that no one sees coming. Leading the charge is Gordon Bombay, (Emilio Estevez) a former little league hockey player who grew into a big shot lawyer. When he is busted for a D.U.I., his punishment is to serve as a coach for community service time much to his dislike. His firm is also hoping it will shape his character some to better himself.
As the young characters start to grow on Gordon and the magic of teaching starts trickling in on him, he begins to see the waywardness of the sport and its politics to which his firm has ties to and completely forgets its about fun and the kids. Coinciding with this, the big arch rival team the Ducks up against was Gordon’s former team he was conditioned into believing the ways of the game which made him walk away from playing entirely.
As they make their way up the bracket, both sides come head to head, each with challenges and opposing viewpoints on the game making it a fun romp and underdog fantasy for kids and adults. Probably the only thing that is a bit of a stretch is Gordon’s flashbacks being used such a dapper downer as to propel him to want to succeed for the past regression. Like this is the one thing that tied him back from being a successful big time player. The devastation is milked a little overdramatic and is pure disney fluff. But if you can ignore that and take the movie for what its worth then you won’t mind since he sees a lot of the youths he’s surrounded himself with have a lot of traits he had at their age.
There are good moments of family drama that aren’t off-putting and a good ensemble of characters that are appealing and tie in with the rest of the story quite well. Its when Disney starts slipping in its fluff that it seems like the filmmakers have to cave in…such as sped up film stock as they’re running to make a scene feel more manic and funny when it doesn’t really add anything, or certain situations that cross a humorous line and into ridiculous fare, or the kid’s abrupt honesty of talking down to the adults which isn’t entirely buyable.
It never lulls or steers too far from the down-to-earth elements for the most part to complain and there’s plenty of humor and excitement during the hockey sequences to distract you enough to smile away for the entire running time. Is it a classic? I’d say a minor classic in and of its era. I’d say lots of people will find enjoyment out of it as long as you can keep your brain in check. Did I like it? Absolutely.
*** out of ****