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D2: The Mighty Ducks
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by Jaycie

"Ducks suck together!"
2 stars

The second film in the Mighty Ducks trilogy was released in 1994, the year that also gave us 3 Ninjas Kick Back, Little Big League, Angels in the Outfield, The Next Karate Kid and Little Giants. So if you expected anything other than a crapstorm of sports movie clichés, you’ve come to the wrong year.

Of the three live-action Mighty Ducks movies produced - as distinct from the animated movie, in which six actual ducks formed an entire hockey team by themselves, fended off an alien invasion and were still more credible than the human characters here - D2 stands out as both the least plausible and the most obvious. How is that possible? Well, our beloved ragtag team of misfits has been dropped into a setting that simply does not make sense, while still finding time to tick all but one box on the checklist in the back of director Sam Weisman’s copy of The Complete Hack’s Guide to Sports Movies. That last box, for the record, is "save the community rink from the unscrupulous land developer who used to love hockey." No "Let’s put on a game!" here, thank the gods.

An unclear span of time after leading the Ducks to their pee-wee championship victory, Coach Gordon Bombay’s (Emilio Estevez) fledgling minor-league career is sidelined by some goon, and he returns to his hometown of Minneapolis in despair. Literally two days later, he meets hockey apparel exec Don Tibbles (Michael Tucker), sent to seduce him into coaching the American ice hockey team for the Junior Goodwill Games - composed entirely of the Ducks, because that’s how international teams are selected, I guess. The members of the old squad willing to show their faces again plus five new tokens go to L.A., handily defeat such hockey luminaries as Italy and Trinidad & Tobago, and get rather cocky before staring down their toughest enemy yet: Iceland.

Yes, Iceland. Not Russia, not Canada, not freaking Sweden, but Iceland, land of competitive strongmen and Sigur RĂłs. Just go with it, people, their country has "ice" in it.

And then they immediately start sucking and have to regain both their former glory, their love of the game and their respect for each other. You know how this works.

Despite D2’s many glaring flaws, children of the 90s remember it and the Mighty Ducks series fondly, as it is completely inoffensive to the yay-team! worldview we possessed at the time and has a few fart jokes. Rewatching it as an adult, however, is apt to bring up a lot of uncomfortable questions. Among them: Why is a literal cowboy from Texas (Ty O’Neal) playing hockey? Why is a Hispanic kid from Florida (Mike Vitar) playing hockey? Why is a streetwise black kid from south central L.A. (Kenan Thompson) playing hockey? Why is Team USA allowed to have two girls (Marguerite Moreau and Colombe Jacobsen) on its team in a competition that appears to be otherwise sex-segregated? Why do salesladies at a snooty Rodeo Drive boutique know who any of these people are on sight? Why do so many of the Icelandic players have distinctly non-Icelandic surnames? Why is it implied that the most scandalous thing Bombay does while on a date with Team Iceland’s gorgeous blond trainer (Maria Ellingsen) is eat ice cream? Why is Team USA’s new tough guy (Aaron Lohr) so hot? Why does Trinidad even have a hockey team? Why? WHY?! WHYYYYYYYY?!?!?!?!

Other than that, D2 is simply mediocre. The performances are tolerable, except for O’Neal, who hails from Texas, rides in actual rodeos and still comes off as a second-string theme park actor. Its target audience will be delighted by the message that once you stop caring about winning, you can start winning again - unless you’re the bad guys, of course, who are characterized by black uniforms and slicked-back hair. (Seriously.) Parents will find it tedious, but it won’t provoke the howls of agony that accompany most feature-length animes. And if you’re like me, a twenty- or thirty-something watching it for nostalgic value, you’ll get bored surprisingly fast.

One aspect I want to address is the soundtrack, which is so on the nose that the CD case has been known to turn into a human fist and punch people. It features not one but two Queen songs – I’ll give you three guesses as to which pair, and the first two guesses don’t count. During warm-up and training scenes, there are two more jock jams that are guaranteed to be in the top five of anyone's list of "songs often heard in arenas." There’s also a montage of Bombay enjoying the perks of his new position set to "Mr. Big Stuff," only because they couldn’t find a song titled "Right Here (Is Where Bombay Becomes a Smug Asswipe)". The one bright spot is a punked-up, stutter-reduced cover of "You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet" by a band nobody ever heard from again. Yes, the career highlight of the Poorboys was playing a cover of a BTO song in a Mighty Ducks movie. That alone should make you feel better for any of its tween cast who went on to well-deserved obscurity.

Running through the entire production is an undercurrent of pure indifference. The people behind D2 did not care enough to make it more than a Disney-friendly sports flick, yielding both a garden-variety storyline and lapses in logic like the ginger nerd (Matt Doherty) stepping on the ice with his Coke-bottle glasses still on. Nobody was asking for Rocky here, but a little effort would have been nice. Come on, guys. What would Hans think?

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originally posted: 11/25/15 06:03:47
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