Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Top 3 Mighty Ducks Movies

So... every Sunday we have a little tradition in my apartment called Sunday Night Movie. Since my birthday falls in October, the October SNMs are all going to be movies I hold in extremely high regard. Our first offering was obviously The Mighty Ducks. And thus, this list...

3. D3
While D3 is arguably my favorite dopamine receptor subtype, it is easily the worst Mighty Ducks film. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that it's highly unlikely that an entire hockey team would magically be accepted to a prep school en masse, especially in Minnesota, where it's not like hockey playing kids are in short supply. (I suppose it's equally unlikely that a US Junior Goodwill hockey team would be allowed to be composed essentially of one peewee team from Minnesota, plus a random Texan dude and a random Asian kid... but, hey, I like D2 a lot more.)
Other issues... Charlie doesn't want to play two-way hockey? Boooo... learn to forecheck, bud. Adam Banks is sort of a villain again? What? I'm all for retconning, but that was lame. Hans dies!? NOOOOOO! Who will make mythical skates and dispense sage advice? ALSO. There's barely any Gordon Bombay in this one. The only dazzle the Minnesota Miracle Man gets to flash is in the courtroom. NOT COOL, GUYS.

Finally, Laksh made the point the other night (and I've gotten into this debate before... in a locker room... before a hockey game... several times) that the franchise has an especially weird antagonist-arc. In the first one, the Ducks have their ultimate battle against the cross-town rivals, the Hawks. Then, in D2, they are suddenly competing for the world champio
nship. Finally, as I've already mentioned, they fall unceremoniously back to earth in D3 and have to face... the Varsity? That's how they raised the stakes? Pshaw.

2. The Mighty Ducks
While watching this movie over the weekend, the concept of the "theoretical movie" was brought up... a theoretical movie is one in which things happen that would happen in a situation involving X and dialogue is spoken that someone would say when faced with X circumstances. Yet somehow, it feels like the writers and director (and sometimes the actors, too) have never been in those situations or heard those words said. There is a courtroom scene early on that basically reads as follows:

Prosecutor: Objection!

Judge: Sustained. Out of order. He's leading the witness.

Gordon Bombay: (whispering to client) I'm whispering to you so it looks like I know what I'm doing.

Prosecutor: Your witness!

Gordon Bombay: Ladies and gentlemen of the jury...

Prosecutor: Objection!

Judge: Overruled... I'd like to see where he's going with this.

Gordon Bombay
: Judge, if I could bring your attention to the precedent set in the case of Blah vs. Blah...

Judge: I see...

Gordon Bombay
: And, correct me if I'm wrong, but you were the presiding judge on that case.

Judge: I rule in favor of Mr. Blah! Case dismissed!

After watching a whole movie unfold like this, I came to the conclusion that that method of storytelling in no way, shape, or form detracts from the quality of the movie or the experience of viewing it... in fact, I think that's why I like The Mighty Ducks. That's especially why I liked it as a kid, because I thought, "Oh man, that's what adults are like, I bet... it's so cool that I'm getting an insight into their secret lives. But also, this hockey team is awesome because they practice with eggs instead of pucks sometimes." (BTW: Unorthodox training methods galore in this one...)

And maybe it holds up because I still don't really know what adults are like, because I'm hanging on to my protracted adolescence, but whatever the case, I still love this movie. It's like when you watch Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Butch is driving Etta around on his bicycle and you can't help and remember the countless parodies of that scene, but it som
ehow doesn't take you out of your sense of enjoyment. Yes, fat kids and single moms and come-from-behind-wins and rag-tag bunches of kids and haunted pasts are cliche, but they're also friggin' entertaining.

Small note: the "flying V"? Yeah, I'm not thinkin' that you're going to find that in any of Herb Brooks' playbooks. Having the whole team basically skate in a bent line will not confuse or intimidate your opponent. It will amuse them for a moment at most. Don't even get me started on the triple deke, either...

1. D2

I have to admit, it took a long time to decide whether or not to allow D2 to pull the upset and finish first on this list. Like, too long. Like, there are much better things for a person to think about than whether one cult-classic-kids-sports-comedy should take the top spot on a three-item list that a handful of people will read, or its sequel. It just ain't fittin'. But I digress. (...this is the sound of me digressing...)

Anyhow, speaking of fitting, having D2 finish ahead of the original Mighty Ducks film seemed like an upset worthy of the Mighty Ducks name. As a sequel, it is, quite frankly, second only to Godfather 2 and Empire Strikes Back in terms its quality as compared to its predecessor. It's got everything you never knew you wanted in a hockey film: day-glo roller blading, the "knuckle puck", Kenan Thompson, the dude who played Bennie the Jet in The Sandlot, tie-dyed Trinidad and Tobago jerseys, the Bombay Loafer ("shoes for kids who want to coach")... Also, it's got a sick antagonist: Team Iceland, led by Gunnar Stahl! Was there ever a more intimidating child sports villain than Gunnar Stahl!? That name can cut glass. (By the way, not like anyone's counting but Iceland's national hockey team is ranked 37th in the actual IIHF... directly behind Mexico. What gives? Apparently you can't just generalize things and say that all Scandinavians are good at hockey.)

And the ending of this one? Absolutely killer. Ultimate good-son Charlie Conway gives up his roster spot for the final game so that Adam Banks (returning from a wicked slash to the wrists) can play... Charlie ends up coaching from the bench. Then there's fighting and lassoing and figure skating and general wackiness, then Kenan ties the game as the clock hits 0:00, then there's a shootout, then they pull Goldberg for the chick goalie... ladies and gentlemen, this is the finest Mighty Ducks film, and by finest, I mean most ridiculous.


El Gigante said...

Ducks fly straight!

Lakshmi said...

"1 out of 5, you weren't lying"
Uh yeah, Big Freak wasn't lying Idiot Bombay, because if he was lying he probably would've said 5 out of 5.