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Ducks’ 3-pack relives glory of childhood sports

Sean Sweany | Monday, April 23, 2007

Sometimes movies are so campy, clichéd and predictable, they’re actually quite entertaining and good. When it comes to early ’90s movies, there is perhaps no series of movies more in this vein than the trilogy of “Mighty Ducks” films, recently released in a DVD 3-Pack.

Disney produced three “Ducks” films between 1992 and 1996 – featuring nearly identical plotlines and slapstick routines – that bombed with critics but skated to commercial success with audiences, spawning a television series and the creation of an NHL team.

“The Mighty Ducks” (1992)When trial lawyer Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez, “The Breakfast Club”) is arrested for drunk driving, he is sentenced to serve community service as a pee-wee hockey coach for a ragtag team of misfits. Although a rocky marriage at first, coach and team discover there are more important things than winning and use that moral to win the district championship game against their arch-rivals, Bombay’s old team and coach.

This film is the most childish and innocent of the three, and it introduced America to several child actors who would later make big names for themselves, including Shaun Weiss (“Heavyweights”) and Joshua Jackson (“Dawson’s Creek”).

“D2: The Mighty Ducks” (1994) This is the best – or at least most re-watchable – of the three, and it follows Bombay and the now famous Ducks as they travel to Los Angeles to compete in the Junior Goodwill Games against the best youth teams in the world. Both Bombay and the team must overcome ego struggles and the feared Iceland team before they can be crowned world champs.

This film is the best of the group because it is perhaps the most outlandish. The hockey is ridiculous, Estevez’ locks sparkle from his numerous hair treatments and product placements for Delta Airlines and the Mighty Ducks NHL franchise – both highly connected to the Disney company – are everywhere. Nevertheless, the happy-go-lucky, feel-good attitude this film evokes overshadows all the drawbacks and makes “D2” a lasting legacy.

“D3: The Mighty Ducks” (1996)The third and final “Ducks” film takes a step back from the second, putting the Ducks in a private prep school and effectively releasing Emilio Estevez of his duties early in the plot. Under a new coach, the Ducks struggle to be themselves (a common thread throughout the films), but eventually unite under the changed leadership to defeat the school’s varsity team.

“D3” essentially re-uses all the gags from the first two films, but in this case, all the enthusiasm seemed to have left – from the writing to the directing and acting. Additionally, the absence of Emilio Estevez – whose spacey delivery and mannerisms made the first two films enjoyable – is sorely missed.

While it is nice having all three “Ducks” films in one DVD set, there is nothing in the way of extras to entice casual fans to buy the set. There are literally no special features, not even the films’ trailers. As the films were made in an era before the inception of DVDs and their special features, perhaps it is not surprising that there are no extras here.

Obviously, this DVD set is not meant to wow anyone and it caters to a very specific audience (its Amazon.com DVD sales rank is a miserable No. 2,793). In reality, this set is a guilty pleasure for many of us who grew up playing street hockey to chants of “Quack, quack, quack” and making sure to incorporate the”Flying-V.” Fans of the “Mighty Ducks” films or any early ’90s, uplifting sports movies will enjoy it as a trip down memory lane.