Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Mighty Ducks Review by Briana Alessio

So this is the first time I saw this film.  I went into it unsure and with caution, since I was used to the 1996-1997 animated series (yes, I realize the series came after the film).  However, I was pleasantly surprised.  This is a well cast, well acted film which I’m excited to be blogging about.

Released in 1992, The Mighty Ducks focuses on the life of troublemaker lawyer Gordon Bombay, and his struggle with life.  When he was a kid, he played youth hockey and ended up losing the big game, upsetting his coach and leaving a bad taste in his mouth for many years to come.  We flash forward to Bombay’s current state of life. His law firm does not seem to appreciate him, especially his boss Gerald Ducksworth (remember that last name while watching) and his habit of landing himself in trouble leads to having to do community service work.  Of course, this brings him into the hands of a league of adolescents who are horrible at the sport of hockey.  I mean, horrible.  They immediately dislike Bombay after introductions, and the feeling is mutual.  After some bickering, they finally become attached.  Bombay forms a close bond with Charlie Conway, and a whole different kind of bond with Charlie’s single mother Casey.  The developing relationships in this film are sweet and heartwarming to watch.  They are quite well played on screen as well.  We see ups and downs of the appropriately named Mighty Ducks, and how Bombay’s old couch from his younger years re-enters his life.  There is conflict but it is brought out well, highlighting each of the characters to give them their own personalities.

For some reason, I feel that this film seems to have touches of Newsies in it minus the music.  The way the characters bond and form close relationships, with the one person who kind of leads them to happiness.  Perhaps I’m way off, or maybe it is just the utilization of camera angles that is similar, but I definitely see similarities in the two.  Also, both films were released the same year.

Emilio Estevez stars as Gordon Bombay.  He is the son of Martin Sheen, which is absolutely obvious just by listening to him speak.  Estevez has appeared in many television shows and films, but is most well known for his role as Andrew Clark in the much loved 1985 film The Breakfast Club.  Josef Sommer plays Gerald Ducksworth.  Sommer has appeared in a countless number of films including the 1977 classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind and 1994’s Nobody’s Fool.  Charlie Conway is played by the almost unrecognizable Joshua Jackson.  We know Jackson best from the youth drama television show which lasted five years, Dawson’s Creek.  The cute Marguerite Moreau is Connie Moreau.  She has been in many films including…wait for it…Beverly Hills Chihuahua.  Yes.  The range of talent in the kids is fantastic, one of them coming from child actor J.D. Daniels.  He provided voices in the animated series versions of Aladdin and The Little Mermaid.  The remaining kids, Hans, Coach Jack Reilly, and Casey Conway are also wonderful additional characters to the film.

The film is directed by Stephen Herek.  Herek has directed numerous other titles including 1991’s dark comedy Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead (I love this film – parental guidance required, if you please), 1995’s Mr. Holland’s Opus, and 1996’s live action Disney hit 101 Dalmatians, among many others.  The film’s writer, Stephen Brill, has participated in writing for both of the Mighty Ducks sequels.

The soundtrack is simple but fun, including the two Queen songs we all know and love, “We Will Rock You” and “We Are The Champions.”  Seriously, how often is the name Freddie Mercury associated with a Disney film?  We also hear “Hey Man” performed by The Poorboys, “Shake ‘Em Down” by Southside Johnny Lyon, a version of “Good Vibrations” by Marky Mark (now known as Mark Wahlberg) and the Funky Bunch, and “Winning It All” by John Spinks.

My favorite scene involves the team trying to teach Goldberg how to become a competent goalie.  They do this by tying him to the net and lunging pucks at him.  At first, Goldberg panics and complains, but he soon after realizes that it does not hurt.  He originally could not come to terms with the fact that the players wear heavy clothing and protection for a reason.  Once he understands this concept, he becomes a much better player.  My favorite character is Charlie Conway.  I love his blossoming friendship with Gordon, and the want he has in his heart for his mother to be happy is absolutely endearing. 

The Mighty Ducks is such a fun film.  The cast is enjoyable and their chemistry is obvious on-screen.  You do not have to put an overwhelming level of thought into the plot.  Everything rolls out easily in front of you, with enough valid explanation to be understandable.  Both children and adults will find the humor and kindness in this film.  I recommend it for a night at home with the family, and look forward to seeing it again someday.

My Rating:  4/5

My mother is not gonna approve of this, Coach! She wants me to live to be Bar Mitzvah'd! 

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