Honestly, I don’t recall having seen D3: The Mighty Ducks since it was in theaters. I’m not saying that it’s an entirely forgettable movie. It isn’t. It’s just not particularly memorable. Anyway, I started with the first film, continued with the second, and now it’s time to round out the trilogy by reviewing the last one. Well, at least the last one until the inevitable reboot.
When last we saw our titular ducks, they’d won big at the Junior Goodwill Games. The opening credits give us a bit of a recap as to what transpired during the first two films. It’s nice to get see the team as kids again and be reminded of the promise of the first film.
The plot of this movie is as follows: the Ducks (the remaining Ducks, I should say) have been given a full athletic scholarship to the prestigious Eden Hall Academy. Their reception isn’t entirely warm. Their coach is tough and expects better from them. They get embroiled in an escalating prank war with the varsity team. They also get their butts handed to them on the ice. Charlie (Joshua Jackson) finds his feathers particularly ruffled by a coach who doesn’t seem to respect either him or the team.
While the previous films were mostly about how much the Ducks were underdogs and seemingly out of their league, that’s not the case in this film. Sure, they’re at this prep school where they’re looked down on and dismissed, but the big problem the Ducks have in this film is hubris. They were champions on the international stage. They’ve somehow managed to beat all kinds of impossible odds. On the ice, they should be unbeatable. Being faced with their own failings and weaknesses is a tougher foe than any other team could be.
So, yes, the Ducks end up pulling themselves together and winning once again. The kids learn important lessons about themselves and each other. Everything is as it should be at the end of a Disney sports film.
As I said before I formally began this review, it’s not the best of the Ducks trilogy. That honor would belong to the first film, of course. This one does, however, deliver a couple of unexpected emotional punches. You may get a little misty-eyed. The kids are still fun to watch and it’s great to have watched them grow as people and performers from the first film to this. It’s a fun little film, but it can’t stand on its own outside of the other films. So, if you’re doing a Ducks marathon, be sure to end it here. Otherwise, you could probably just leave it be.
One of the big complaints I had about D2: The Mighty Ducks was the under-use of Julie “The Cat” Gaffney (Colombe Jacobson-Derstine) as goalie. This movie certainly makes up for that lack in making her the primary goalie, much to the dismay of Goldberg (Shaun Weiss). While that pleased me, I was less pleased by the subplot of Goldberg’s attempts to fatten up his rival in an effort to take his previous face. The fact that she follows his advice in the beginning with such trust is alarming. She’s known Goldberg for four years now. While the audience has known him for three movies, they’d know better than to take his nutritional advice without a huge helping of salt.
In the meantime, speed-skating Luis Mendoza (Mike Vitar) is going with the traditional Latin lover stereotype as he pursues the pretty blonde cheerleader. There’s this unnecessary bit where he’s crawling on the floor in front of a row of cheerleaders and peeking up their skirts. Seriously, guys? Why is that even in the movie?
On the plus side, at least the other romantic subplots aren’t totally cringe-worthy. Charlie develops a thing for a jock-hating girl who wants Eden Hall to change its mascot from the offensive Warriors to something else (that sounds familiar). She’s determined not to give him the time of day due to his jock status. While Charlie is annoyingly persistent, he does seem to respect her as a person. That’s nice to see in movies like this. It’s also nice to see Julie’s abilities on the ice catching the notice of a handsome varsity team member.
As far as sports movies in general go, the Ducks trilogy is overall more diverse than many sports films. I’m glad I took some time to rediscover the films and remember why I liked them as a kid. They may not be the best films, but they have a lot of heart. As the movies teach us, that counts for a whole lot.