Oh, how excited I am about this one. As a child who grew up going to hockey, my dad had a press pass for the local team. It was a dream to have a hockey movie at home that I could watch over and over and over again. The movie that kids that weren’t perfect could watch and see that and think, “Hey! I can do whatever I want to do!” With Emilio Estevez at the helm, anything is possible with The Mighty Ducks.
The film was written by Steve Brill, who would later have issues and sue for royalties. Originally, Jake Gyllenhaal was supposed to be in the movie as the lead child actor instead of Joshua Jackson but turned the role down.
Disney hadn’t produced many sports movies up to this date. They made profits with their Herbie series of movies, but other than that, they hadn’t dabbled in sports-themed movies until the Mighty Ducks. It was a stretch to create something so different.
Another turn in this movie would be the star, Emilio Estevez. Estevez was known for movies like The Breakfast Club, and St. Elmo’s Fire. In this role, working with kids would be a different avenue for him. Disney liked the movies that he was in and thought that he would be perfect as the uptight lawyer, turned hockey coach in the film.
Another struggle would be for the kids. Almost all the kids were virtual unknowns. This would be one of their first or their first acting roles. The kids would turn into some of the biggest actors, including the aforementioned Joshua Jackson, who rose to fame on Dawson’s Creek, and Jussie Smollett of the show Empire.
The movie was panned by most reviewers but is beloved by viewers. The film grossed 50 million dollars at the box office and was a success. The film also grossed 54 million on home video.
A movie that is centered on the underdog. A group of kids that try their hardest, get a new coach that is a hotshot lawyer, Gordon Bombay, played by Emilio Estevez. Bombay is made to be the coach because he got in trouble with the law, so his community service is coaching a hockey team. This seems like a weird punishment, but they are in Minnesota, so maybe things are different there. Bombay clearly doesn’t care about this community service, but when he finds the District Five competitors are the Hawks, his old childhood team, he decides maybe it is time to care.
Bombay, in his infinite wisdom, decides that he is going to teach the District 5 team to take falls, instead of actually teaching them how to play the game of hockey. This doesn’t go over well with the team or the parents because they don’t trust him. Bombay finds Hans, played by Joss Ackland, who is the mentor character of the movie, and shows Gordon what it means to be a team, and to re-find his love of hockey, which left after his father passed.
Bombay then gets his skates on and finds the love that he lost in playing hockey as a kid. Everyone in the movie had to learn to skate and actually play hockey. There were no stunt actors for the kids or adults in the movie. When discovering this, he goes and apologizes to the team, and asks to be their coach again.
In doing so, we get a hilarious scene of the kids getting new gear because Bombay convinces his boss at the law firm to buy new pads and gear for the team. While doing this, they find Bombay played hockey for the Hawks as a kid and we find new players for the team. There comes another hilarious scene of Bombay teaching the kids how to play hockey with eggs and tying up the goalie.
It wouldn’t be a Disney movie without a love interest. Coach Bombay ends up trying to date one of the kid’s mom’s. It’s typical and unnecessary, but is cute for later movies. This starts the relationship between Charlie Conway played by Joshua Jackson and Coach Bombay, which would turn into a father-son mentor relationship.
The movie also set the scene for the other movies by making them the Ducks. Disney would capitalize on this and actually buy the Anaheim Ducks, and have an actual NHL hockey team because of the movie. Ducks fly together, and ducks stay together. The kids get better and better, throughout the movie because they are actually being taught how to play by Bombay and they create a bond.
There are some shady actions. The Ducks take a player from the Hawks, even though it is the rule. It is shady and another unneeded thing in the movie. This creates drama with the team because they overhear Bombay talking and take his sarcasm literally because they are kids. This continues with the kids don’t come to play, and drama with the league and the adults in the movie. It is quite a dramatic scene that is totally unnecessary. This would get Bombay fired in a wonderful scene where he quacks out of a law building at his former boss.
The Ducks would take Bombay back as their coach, and they would make the playoffs against who else but the Hawks, the rival team in the finals. This becomes very intense because it is the player Bombay vs. the coach of the Hawks. It isn’t really about the kids at this point. We see a young Bombay miss the shot that disappointed the Hawks coach, where the rivalry all began.
There is an intense hockey scene where we see the goals that lead to the tie. The movie would, of course, climax to a penalty shot, with the scene just like the scene Bombay was in as a kid. The penalty shot would be shot by none other than Charlie Conway, the kid that Bombay has been working with, the one that is emulating him. Charlie gets to take the shot without a helmet, which is strange and wouldn’t actually happen. It adds to the drama, though. Charlie does his triple deke and gets the game winning goal!
Bombay gets his tryout to be a minor league hockey player and the Ducks win the trophy. Bombay learned he loves hockey, and it’s where he is meant to be. They then end by saying they will see each other next season and that is the end.
An overall cute, fun movie that is great for all ages.
Does it Hold Up?
It’s a great film! They do a fantastic job of doing what Disney does best, and that is making nostalgic films that you can watch again and again no matter when you watch them.
This is the best! And it just reminded me of why I loved Joshua Jackson so much as a child!
Do you agree with my assessment? Post your thoughts in the comments below!
As always, Creating Nostalgia Millennial Style
1 thought on “Pee-Wee Hockey at Its Finest: The Mighty Ducks (1992)”
Loved all the Mighty Ducks movies. The sequels didn’t quite hit as well as the first one, but they were all fun.