The Mighty Ducks (film)

The Mighty Ducks (also known as D1: The Mighty Ducks, and Champions in the United Kingdom and Australia) is a 1992 American sports comedy-drama film about a youth league hockey team, directed by Stephen Herek and starring Emilio Estevez. It was produced by The Kerner Entertainment Company and Avnet–Kerner Productions and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. It is the first film in The Mighty Ducks film series. In some countries, the home release copies were printed with the title as The Mighty Ducks Are the Champions to avoid confusion with the title of the sequel.

The Mighty Ducks
Theatrical release poster
Directed byStephen Herek
Written bySteven Brill
Produced by
CinematographyThomas Del Ruth
Edited by
Music byDavid Newman
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures Distribution
Release date
  • October 2, 1992 (1992-10-02)
Running time
104 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$14 million[1]
Box office$50.8 million[2]

The year after the film's release, Disney founded an NHL hockey team, named the "Mighty Ducks of Anaheim".

Plot edit

Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez) is a successful but arrogant Minneapolis defense attorney. After his 30th successful case, he celebrates by going out drinking, but is arrested for drunk driving and sentenced to 500 hours of community service by coaching the local "District 5" Pee-Wee hockey team. Bombay has an unpleasant history with the sport: as a youth in 1973, he was the Hawks’ star player but, struggling with the loss of his father, he missed a tie-breaking penalty shot in the final seconds of the championship game, sending the game to overtime in which the Hawks lost, disappointing his hyper-competitive coach, Jack Reilly (Lane Smith).

Bombay meets the District 5 team, and realizes the children have no practice facility, equipment, or ability. Their first game with Bombay at the helm is against the Hawks, with Reilly still the Hawks' head coach. District 5 is soundly defeated, 17-0, as Reilly demands the Hawks run up the score. Bombay berates the team for not listening to him, and the players challenge his authority. For the next match, Bombay tries to teach his team how to dive and draw penalties, which results in another loss – this time to the Jets – angering the team further. Specifically one player Charlie Conway (Joshua Jackson), who refused to fake an injury like Bombay instructed him to. Bombay visits his old mentor Hans (Joss Ackland), who owns a nearby sporting goods store and was in attendance at the game against the Hawks. While there, Bombay recalls that he quit playing hockey after losing his father four months before the championship game, and because Reilly blamed him for the loss due to the missed penalty shot. Hans encourages him to rekindle his childhood passion for the sport by skating in a frozen pond like he did when he was a kid. Realizing the error of his ways, he apologizes to Charlie and his mother at their home.

Bombay approaches his boss, Gerald Ducksworth (Josef Sommer), to sponsor the team, allowing them to purchase proper equipment and give Bombay time to teach the players fundamentals. Renamed the Ducks – after Ducksworth – the team fights its next game against the Cardinals to a tie. They recruit three new players: Figure skating siblings Tommy (Danny Tamberelli) and Tammy Duncan (Jane Plank), and slap shot specialist and enforcer Fulton Reed (Elden Henson). The potential of Charlie catches Bombay's eye; he takes Charlie under his wing and teaches him some of the tactics he used playing with the Hawks.

Bombay learns that, due to redistricting, the Hawks’ star player Adam Banks (Vincent LaRusso) lives in District Five and should be playing for the Ducks, and threatens Reilly into transferring Banks to the Ducks. After overhearing an out-of-context quote about the team, most of the players walk out (except Charlie and Fulton who form a strong friendship), resulting in a forfeit to the Flames. The Ducks lose faith in Bombay and revert to their old habits except Charlie and Fulton.

Ducksworth makes a deal with Reilly for the Hawks to keep Banks, which Bombay refuses on the principles of fair play, which Ducksworth berated him about when he started his community service. Left with the choice of letting his team down or being fired from his job, he takes the latter.

Bombay manages to regain his players’ trust after they win a crucial match against the Huskies in order to qualify for the playoffs, and Banks – who decided to play with the Ducks rather than not play hockey at all – proves to be an asset though Jesse doesn't trust him. The Ducks march through the playoffs with wins against the Hornets and the Cardinals, reaching the championship game against the Hawks. Reilly orders his team to injure Banks to force him out of the game; in spite of this, the Ducks manage to tie the game late in the final period, and Charlie is tripped by a Hawks player as time expires. In precisely the same situation Bombay faced in his youth, Charlie prepares for a game-deciding penalty shot. In stark contrast to Reilly – who told Bombay that if he missed, he was letting everyone down – Bombay tells Charlie to take his best shot and that he will believe in him no matter what. Inspired, Charlie fakes out the goalie with a "triple-deke" Bombay taught him and scores, winning the state championship.

The Ducks players and their families race onto the ice in jubilation, where Bombay thanks Hans for his belief in him and Hans tells Bombay he is proud of him; as Bombay is handed and raises the championship trophy, the team all rally around him and chant "Ducks!" repeatedly in triumphant unison. Some days later, Bombay boards a bus to a minor-league tryout, secured for him by the NHL's Basil McRae of the Minnesota North Stars, who played Pee-Wee hockey with him as a youth. Although daunted at the prospect of going up against younger players, he receives the same words of encouragement and advice from the Ducks he had given them, promising to return next season to defend their title.

Cast edit

Basil McRae and Mike Modano both made cameo appearances towards the end of the movie.

Production edit

The film was written by Steve Brill, who later sued for royalties for the film.[3] Jake Gyllenhaal turned down the role of Charlie Conway.[4] Emilio Estevez was cast in 1991, after Herek was impressed by his performances in Brat Pack films, The Outsiders (1983), The Breakfast Club (1985) and St. Elmo's Fire (1985).

It was filmed in several locations in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Principal photography took place between January and April 1992.[1]

Reception edit

Box office edit

The film grossed $50,752,337 in the United States and Canada,[2] becoming a surprising success with audiences. The Mighty Ducks made $54 million in home video rentals according to Video Week magazine in 1992.[5]

Critical reception edit

The Mighty Ducks received generally lukewarm reviews from critics. It holds a 23% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 30 reviews, with an average rating of 4/10. The site's consensus reads, "The Mighty Ducks has feel-good goals, but only scores a penalty shot for predictability".[6] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.[7]

Roger Ebert said the film was "sweet and innocent, and that at a certain level it might appeal to younger kids. I doubt if its ambitions reach much beyond that", and gave it a 2-star rating.[8] Rita Kempley of The Washington Post described the film as 'Steven Brill, who has a small role in the film, constructed the screenplay much as one would put together some of those particleboard bookcases from Ikea.'[9]

Emilio Estevez was surprised at the popularity of the movie series.[10]

Home media edit

The film was released on VHS on April 14, 1993, DVD on April 11, 2000, and on Blu-ray Disc on May 23, 2017.

Sequels edit

The unexpected box-office success of the film inspired two sequels, D2: The Mighty Ducks (1994) and D3: The Mighty Ducks (1996), and an animated TV series (the latter taking on a science fiction angle with actual anthropomorphic ducks). While both sequels failed to match the original film's gross, they were still financially successful.[11]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b The Mighty Ducks at the American Film Institute Catalog
  2. ^ a b The Mighty Ducks at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ "The 'Mighty Ducks' Trilogy: An Oral History". June 9, 2014. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
  4. ^ Peters, Chris (July 27, 2015). "Jake Gyllenhaal recalls how his parents cost him 'Mighty Ducks' role". Retrieved October 18, 2016.
  5. ^ Malinowski, Erik (November 25, 2015). "How Mighty Ducks the Movie Became Mighty Ducks the NHL Team". Esquire. Hearst Communications. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
  6. ^ "The Mighty Ducks". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  7. ^ "Home - Cinemascore". CinemaScore. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  8. ^ Ebert, Roger (October 2, 1992). "The Mighty Ducks". Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved October 4, 2014.
  9. ^ Kempley, Rita (October 5, 1992). "'The Mighty Ducks' (PG)". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  10. ^ "Emilio Estevez on the Success of Mighty Ducks Video". NHL VideoCenter. National Hockey League. October 18, 2016. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
  11. ^ Fox, David J. (October 13, 1992). "Weekend Box Office A Bang-Up Opening for 'Under Siege'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 1, 2010.

External links edit