Entertainment Talk

Explaining (at least some of) the Mighty Ducks movie flaws

Emilio Estevez, Mighty Ducks movie
Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez) was not a perfect person in the first Mighty Ducks movie. That fact alone helps to clear up some of the screenplay's supposed blunders. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images/NHLI)

Consider this an intramural debate among Mighty Ducks movie nerds.

It is natural that Disney’s kid-targeted hockey trilogy stretches the truth. While that fact does not constitute grounds for chastising the nitpickers, there is nothing wrong with underlining the alleged blemishes that are not necessarily blemishes at all.

Hockey purists should be free to explain to novice viewers why the Flying V and the knucklepuck are ludicrous. But likewise, there should be a time reserved for nitpicking the nitpicks that have been pinned on relatively realistic elements.

The authoritative Internet Movie Database aggregates unlimited lists of goofs for any film in existence. At least three of the flags strewn on its page for the original Mighty Ducks movie warrant a challenge.

Elsewhere, in this author’s past viewings with peers, D3 has elicited a pair of verbal head-scratches. But upon further review, those two occurrences are not automatically offside in real life either.

Sometimes, “It’s a movie” is not all you need. In these cases, it is not even all you have at your disposal. Here is how you can defend the following five “flaws” in the trilogy.

The playoff bracket
The Hawks were undefeated, whereas the Ducks lost all but two of their regular-season games. Shouldn’t they have met earlier in the playoffs?

Not unless the Hawks had to relinquish every win they attained with Adam Banks in the lineup. Coach Gordon Bombay does warn his Hawks counterpart, Jack Reilly, about forfeiting each game Banks plays going forward. He may have simply neglected to mention retroactive penalties, or was unaware that those would apply as well.

This happened in real life at the 2006 USA Hockey national tournament. The Boston Junior Bruins vacated their first victory in the round robin when caught using ineligible players after the fact. (Incidentally, they recovered and squeaked into the playoff bracket on an overtime point, eventually winning the championship.)

It is therefore perfectly plausible that the Hawks plummeted to seventh or eighth place for the violation. With the Ducks clinching their spot in the regular-season finale, that would make them the two lowest seeds.

Accordingly, the championship would have been their only possible playoff intersection.

Flimsy flashbacks
Reilly’s word order between “letting me down” and “letting your team down” alternate when Bombay replays them in his head. But the human mind can remember the same moment differently during separate reflections. It is not as though Bombay had the haunting speech on tape.

You want a real replay continuity blunder? Check out the Rocko’s Modern Life episode where Heffer leaves a message about “monster movies,” only for Rocko’s machine to play it as “monster videos.” (All due respect to Joe Murray and company. Nobody’s perfect. We still love your work.)

He ‘might even learn ’em’
In his acerbic and apathetic introduction to the team, Bombay mixes Les Averman and Dave Karp’s names. While that seemingly reeks of continuity error, a few moments later he points and repeats “You” when assigning scrimmage teams.

Goldberg objects to the new coach’s impersonal attitude, reminding him that “We’ve got names.” Bombay fires back, “I’m sure you do, and I bet they’re very nice names. I might even learn ’em!”

The coach’s condescension enhances his carelessness when reading the roster, and vice versa. They affirm his lack of interest just as much as his blunt statement, “I hate hockey and I don’t like kids.”

JV in name only
The plot of D3 culminates the way everyone was basically trained to expect. But then, why bother with JV and varsity teams, let alone an intramural contest between them?

Yes, based on their background as international gold medalists, the Ducks were theoretically good enough to hang with varsity teams. And that theory is verified in the end.

But perhaps in the Mighty Ducks movie universe, age and grade-level restrictions apply in the interscholastic ranks. Several interscholastic and intercollegiate organizations, including the NCAA, have operated that system in the past.

Indeed, throughout the screenplay, the terms “JV” and “freshman” are used interchangeably. It would not be a stretch to assume that first-year student-athletes are not eligible for varsity teams. That is, unless, there are individual players like Banks who demonstrate exceptional skills.

Clearly, Eden Hall recruited the Ducks to flex its privilege and pursue a PR booster.

Whistles withheld
Go to any high school or college with a prestigious sports program, and you will hear accusations of preferential treatment for elite student-athletes. Some are unfounded, but others are embarrassingly accurate.

D3 satirizes this in much the same way the original Mighty Ducks lampoons zealous youth coaches. By all accounts, the “brownie”-induced cafeteria riot, the chemistry-lab freezer theft and the ant incident draw zero disciplinary action. The protagonists are only in trouble when they struggle to crack the win column.

Likewise, none of the hallway bullying or locker-room break-ins by the varsity result in any consequences. After all, the incumbent Warriors have sustained an annual ritual of bringing home banners. Meanwhile, the dining-hall debacle comes before the new celebrity JV team makes its debut before an expectedly full barn.

Not quite the same as when the peewee Ducks — still a winless non-school team — brawl in science class. See the difference?

Al Daniel

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