Movie Review: Ducks Fly Together (The Only Time Merrin Will Be Nice About Ducks)

Is there a chance that hockey fans out there have not watched The Mighty Ducks?

The answer is apparently yes, as Carolyn and I were DISMAYED to discover when we planned a movie night with some local friends. With that in mind, we present this review of the entire trilogy (because yes, we watched the entire trilogy in one afternoon, because you can, and because why not) to entice any other unfortunate souls who have not had the pleasure.

The Mighty Ducks

How could you not want to watch this movie already, based on this picture alone?
The first! The original! The 90s fashion! 

Gordon Bombay, a hotshot lawyer, is haunted by memories of his childhood, when, as the star player in his champion hockey team, he lost the winning goal in a shootout, thereby losing the game, and the approval of his coach. After being charged for drunk driving, the court orders him to coach a peewee hockey team, the worst in the league, Gordon is at first very reluctant. However, he eventually gains the respect of the kids and teaches them how to win, gaining a sponsor on the way and giving the team the name of The Ducks. In the finals, they face Gordon’s old team, coached by Gordon’s old coach, giving Gordon a chance to face old ghosts.

I first watched this movie shortly after its release in 1992 so all of my feelings for it are hardcore nostalgic and I’m incapable of being rational. This movie is the very best.

You can tell from the picture it’s a rag tag group of hooligans. The goalie, Goldberg, is afraid of the puck hitting him. Two of their forwards are those tiny children in the front (ONE OF THEM IS THE KID FROM PETE AND PETE). Their bruising defenseman with the howitzer shot only hits the net 1 out of 5 times and doesn’t know how to skate. They’ve got problems.

And it’s got conflict in the form of Gordon Bombay being an asshole for like the first half. A great scene early in the film has him teaching them to take dives during games while chanting, “take the fall, act hurt, get indignant.” But because it’s a Disney movie, Bombay of course comes around. It’s a feel good kiddie roller coaster with some gentle rise and fall and because it was filmed in Minnesota in 1992, it has a cameo by Mike Modano and Basil McRae:

Incidentally, this movie is also the reason I chanted “quack quack quack” at my first ever hockey game. And the reason I know what hockey is. And I feel pretty confident stating that it was the first appearance of the flying v offense:

Which is probably not as effective as you’d think.

D2: The Mighty Ducks

Otherwise known as the film where suddenly everyone is taller than Emilio Estevez.
Gordon Bombay is forced to withdraw from the minor hockey league with a knee injury. Much to his surprise, he is given the job of coach of Team USA Hockey for the Junior Goodwill Games in California. With most of the Ducks and a few new players in tow, he sets forth for LA. All appears to be going well for a while, but the hype of Hollywood starts to get to Gordon, and he is distracted when Iceland, the favourites to win the title, appear on the scene.

Oh yeah, at the end of the first movie Basil McRae has gotten Bombay a try-out with the AHL. It goes well, he plays some hockey for a couple of years, gets injured, comes back to Minnesota and finds the now much taller group of kids waiting for him.

This time, the Ducks fly international (except not, because everyone comes to them) for the Junior Goodwill Games??? I’ve googled, those don’t seem to actually be a thing. The conflict here, again, is mostly driven by Gordon Bombay. The games are held in LA, and a lot shiny LA people come around, wowing Bombay with all the things he never got as a star player in the NHL.

Like The One himself.

So basically, Bombay ends up needing to learn the same lesson he’d learned in the previous movie, except this time with even more guest cameos from famous people, and also an unveiling of the new Ducks logo just in time for the THIRD PERIOD of the final game:

The fact Emilio Estevez is the shortest person in this picture makes me think that’s why he peaced out for the third movie. (Spoilers.)
They also added five new players to make up for the kids from the first movie who weren’t available for the second. My favorite is Julie “the Cat” Gaffney who despite being a much better goaltender than Goldberg, gets a fraction of the playing time. (So, you know, a lot like real life, probably.) There’s also a former figure skater from California who ends up dazzling the opposition with a toe spin, some kid from Austin who brings a lasso to practice (and uses it once during a game??? who even knows) and a kid from Miami who can score but can’t stop, you know, his forward momentum. And the last minute addition of Kenan Thompson and his (probably trademarked and not actually effective) knucklepuck.

And of course, there’s the flying v.

D3: The Mighty Ducks

So the first movie is just, you know, the Mighty Ducks. The second one is Mighty Ducks go to the Olympics. The third is Mighty Ducks go to school.

Boarding school.

You heard me.

In the third episode of this series, the Ducks get scholarships to Eden Hall Academy, a high ranking prep school. But as freshmen, they will have to face the snob varsity team…

Even the people who write the synopses for IMDB aren’t feeling it. (I’m feeling it, however.) This movie might be one of my favorites because it’s like a group of Disney producers got in a room and wrote fan fiction without even realizing they were writing fan fiction. 

Bombay gets the kids scholarships to his alma mater, Eden Hall, where they will no longer be Ducks but Warriors (complete with an offensive Native American logo on the jersey). Charlie gets himself a girlfriend that hates sports at the school because of the name/logo combination, but unfortunately this storyline doesn’t really go anywhere, and a lot of the passion about it (at least on the side of the kids that want to be Ducks again) is that they’re DUCKS, not Warriors, and has nothing to do with not being offensive.

ANYWAY. There’s a new coach (not pictured above) who’s a bit of a hard ass. Good thing that happens: new coach makes Julie The Cat #1 goalie. Bad things that happen: Charlie gets the C stripped away, everyone almost quits, and Banks is promoted to the varsity team. Features a celebrity cameo by Paul Kariya (!!!!!!!!!), an incredibly large any farm, and other hilarious hijinks. 

And finally, the varsity players exploit the weakness in the flying v system:

Collective rating for all three movies: 

Beard 5

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