Jake Gyllenhaal was originally considered for the part of Charlie Conway. (Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures)
With the arrival of homecoming week, the need to celebrate the sport of hockey is not uncommon. There are countless classic movies to pick from to start the season off right, but this movie just is not one of them.
“Mighty Ducks,” directed by Stephen Herek who is previously known for directing other mediocre films such as “101 Dalmatians,” “The Three Musketeers” and “The Cutting Edge: Fire and Ice,” in 1992 released another tale of a stereotypical underdog who was not able to reach the success that he so rightfully deserved, and instead tries to make that chance possible for a group of misfit kids.
The film follows the story of a win-at-all-cost Minneapolis attorney, Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez), who previously participated on his own hockey team while growing up, but lost who he once was along the way while becoming an adult. After being sentenced to work 500 hours after a DUI violation, Gordon is forced to become a coach for a broken, unskilled children’s hockey team known as the Ducks.
Instead of welcoming the team with open arms, he keeps an arrogant distance from the sport and the team while trying not to remember his own failure while being a team member on the Hawks during his youth.
That all changes when Bombay has the motivation to try and stick it to his condescending ex-coach, Jack Reilly (Lane Smith), who still is coaching the Hawks’ team that Gordon was once a part of. This allows Gordon to warm up to the idea of competition and create a team that is worthy of winning.
Even with the unoriginal script and writing style by Steven Brill, Esteves, who is previously known for playing roles in “The Outsiders” and “The Breakfast Club,” still tries to make the most out of his role as Gordon. He is able to take scenes that would otherwise seem impossible and make them something worth not falling asleep from.
Esteves’ performance showed some wonderful vulnerability, especially in scenes with his love interest: one of the Ducks’ mother’s (Heidi Kling). It was one of the few moments in the entire movie that his character was able to shine through the bleak directing.
Other than Esteves’ performance, everyone else did not seem to be able to put there all into their roles. Smith, most of the time, appeared uninterested as the ex-coach, and the children were never convincing enough towards how they felt being the unappreciated team. None of the children ever looked interested in even being in the film in the first place, which really affected how the movie went about.
“Mighty Ducks” is certainly not one of the best or worst sports movies ever made, but just because it is not terrible does not mean it is worth watching. In truth, this movie was for hockey fans only. This movie is made only for those interested in sports and coming-of-age movies with the stereotypical underdog scenario.
Final Grade: D