>>> Casual Misanthropy
By staff writer JD Rebello
January 9, 2005

The Lord of the Rings trilogy DVD set came out a few moons back, and while hordes of short, balding, pre-pubescent masturbatory specialists made their way to Best Buy to shell out hard-earned money on the no-doubt bloated set, it got me thinking about my favorite trilogy.

I‘ll tell you right off the back, it ain't Rings. I'd rather be teabagged by Elephantitis Joe the morning after a tequila bender than sit through another one of those shit-storms. It certainly isn't Star Wars. Good, now all the geeks in the room have left to debate whether Chewbacca could beat up Godhsebathia in a fight. (Again, I've never seen LOTR; I'm just assuming there's a character named Godhsebathia. I bet he/she/it had hairy ankles too. Everyone had hairy ankles in that damned film. Even Liv Tyler.)

It ain't the Indiana Jones or Die Hard films, although those are certainly nothing to scoff at. (And if you do take part in the practice of “scoffing”, I don't want you reading my column either. Be gone.)

It almost ain't Back to the Future, even though I once sold a textbook to afford the DVD set, knowing full well I'd need the book again in five months.

Then it came to me. The holy trilogy. The three films, near-flawless from beginning to end. The three films that changed my life. So epic in nature that I require a period between each and every word just to elaborate on the enormity.

The. Mighty. Ducks. Trilogy.

I know what you're thinking. Actually I don't, but if some semblance of “Those are kids movies you retard!” passed through your lips, let me be the first to say: “Hope you die in a car fire.” These are brilliant films. And if you can't appreciate their brilliance then you aren't worth the words “Fuck off,” so let me give you just “off” and be assured I'm letting you off easy. Let's break down the trilogy, shall we?

And for the record, about a year ago, I caught the DVD box set of this at Best Buy, and it was one of those moments that stops you dead in your tracks, like seeing Lindsay Lohan's Entertainment Weekly cover.

Mighty Ducks (1992, I think. The early nineties were a bit fuzzy for me, those were my dropping acid phase. Yes, I realize I was 9. It was a joke. Or was it?)

The Plot:

Gordon Bombay is a hotshot lawyer busted for drunk driving. He is sentenced to community service a.k.a coaching the District 5 pee wee hockey team. They suck. He makes them better, brings in some ringers. He bangs Pacey's mom. District 5 becomes the Ducks, they end up beating the Hawks (coached by Bombay's old hockey coach, one of the most insidious villains ever put to celluloid). Game over. Quack.

The Cast:

We'll start with the good. Remember, in 1992, Emilio Estevez still thought he had a movie career? He could have just phoned this in. He didn't. He nailed it. Absolutely nailed it. Remember in “Pirates of the Caribbean” when you realized nobody but Johnny Depp could have pulled this off? That's how I feel about Estevez here. The “Are we Ducks or what?!” detention scene was Oscar-worthy. And I'm being completely serious.

Kids are always tricky in movies. There's a fine line between “I see dead people” and that shrieky hoesbeast in “Enough.” Not that I've seen “Enough.” Let's just move on.

Anyway, Charlie Conway did the job. I liked Jesse, Averman, Goldberg (a veritable comic genius, and one of the few characters in movie history to pull off a successful running fart joke). I didn't mind Fulton, Guy or Connie just for the stunning sexual chemistry. I couldn't stand Little Pete and his figure skating sister, or that fat bastard Karp, the little short Guido who always wore leather jackets, and Jesse's little brother was pretty much useless, except to set up the “Oreo line” gag.

The Best Scene:

This is an easy one. I'll set it up. First of all, let me remind you that every sports movie needs one or two great emotional scenes that give you goosebumps, like RoyHobbs' homerun, “Yo, Adrian”, and Squints macking it with Wendy at the pool.

The Mighty Ducks has one that trumps them all. In the final game against the Hawks, the Evil Coach Jack Riley sends out some goon to nail Adam Banks. The goon (who, to this day, scares the living hell out of me with the whole “What did you do?” “MY JOB” exchange) injures Banks, and Banks is taking off in a stretcher like he's just been paralyzed. Bombay shakes Banks' hand as the kid is wheeled away, then makes his way over to the Hawks' bench as him and Riley have this exchange:

Riley: You got something to say to me, Bombay?
Bombay: (shakes head) To think, I wasted all those years worrying about what you thought. (beat) You're going down, Riley.

Wow, just typing it gives me chills. If this scene doesn't make you want to fuck up a hockey team full of grade-schoolers, check your pulse.

The Worst Scene:

This is easy. Bombay and Ms. Conway looking at ice sculptures. I hate this. If I'm ever running Hollywood, I'm making it a rule that there will be no love interests in sports movie. Just like life, women ruin everything. And in between the team chemistry scenes and hockey scenes, the writers threw in this gem of a scene that would be more at home in some Sandra Bullock movie. Piss on it. (And what the hell were the directors thinking here? “We're making a movie for kids who like sports. Hey, let's throw in a date scene where the coach and some kid's mom look at ice sculptures.”)

My Final Thought:

“Best movie ever made, until…”

D2: The Mighty Ducks (1994)

Everyone says Empire Strikes Back and Godfather 2 were the only sequels to actually improve on the original. Well, make room for D2. Everything good about the original Ducks is back, and they've trimmed all the crap. None of the aforementioned “annoying Ducks.” No Charlie's Mom, not even any of those flashbacks of Gordon when he was a little kid that the first movie showed us like 192,304 times.

Instead, it's most of the original cast back again, this time playing on a world competition level against hockey giants from, umm Iceland and Trinidad. The Iceland team is led by a villainous head coach (Wolf “The Dentist” Stannson) who is, incredibly, even scarier than the head coach in the original. I never thought a villain could top Jack Riley, but wow. At this rate, you'd think the evil coach in D3 would rape Averman at center ice.

Anyway, Bombay become preoccupied with sponsors (kind of a mixed message for a Disney movie), the kids start to suck again, the ringers are a mixed bag of stereotypes, but they eventually come together to beat Iceland in a shootout in a climactic hockey game, that, yes, is better than the original. With all the crappy sequels shoveled into Cineplexes these days, I plead with screenwriters to watch this one, the rare sequel that took everything good about the original and improved the living hell out of it.

The Cast:

Again, Estevez is solid gold. Goldberg and Averman are an unsurpassed comic duo. But we've covered all that. Let's check out the newbies. Here are my grades: Julie “The Cat” Gaffney: A+ (I'm pretty sure responsible for my first wet dream). Dean Portman: B-. Dwayne Roberston: C- (just, too much of a blazing Texas stereotype). Luis Mendoza: A- (Isn't it incredible he was in this and the Sandlot, two of the watershed kid sports movies of the 90's?) Russ Tyler: A (since every kid who saw this movie tried to shoot a knucklepuck) Ken Wu: D- (Just because I forgot about him until I went to IMDB) Ms. McKay: D+ (Another turd in the punch bowl woman in a sports movie, she gets a “+” only because she's weirdly attractive, and she coaches the team for a period against Germany, hence making her somewhat useful to the plot.)

The Best Part:

Lots to choose from, the Rodeo Drive scene (“I gotta be honest, my mom could really use a bikini.”), the blatant racism in the game against Italy (“Hey, Paisan, how do you say in Italiano, ‘wussy?'”), the incredibly well done final game (which broke pretty much every rule of hockey, but I don't care), the cameos from Luc Robittaile, Chris Chelios, and the immortal Cam Neely (three of my favorite hockey players of all time), and the roller hockey scene against the South Central guys set to “Whoomp! There It Is!” (because as we all know, black guys from South Central love hockey). But, if I had to pick one, the best scene is probably the Bombay vs. Stansson three-bar game. Well-acted, nerve-wracking at times, and with some truly hissable villainy supplied by Stansson. “Get your coach off the ice!”

The Worst Part:

Not much, really. Tibbles was kind of annoying in his scenes. Even the Jan speech scene was solid, usually old men waxing philosophical about sports makes me hit the snooze. Oh ok, I found one. I never really liked that whole “Who are you? Where are you from?” scene between periods during the big game. It's not a bad idea, kind of corny, but not bad. What's irritating is that whole, “And when the roosters are crowing, and the cows are spinning circles in the pasture?!” gem thrown out by Dwayne. We get it, you're from Texas. But it's just one stupid line, and it shouldn't effect your love for this film.

My Final Thought:

Can you believe this came out the same year as Forrest Gump, Pulp Fiction, Lion King, Dumb and Dumber, and Shawshank Redemption? The last two Oscar winners were Rings and Chicago, this is not a sign of progress.

D3: The Mighty Ducks (1996)

I'll bite. I hated hated HATED this movie when I first saw it. I was 14, wanted to see some hockey, but this isn't a hockey movie, and that's the first thing you have to realize when seeing it.

Now that I'm older, wiser, and hairier, I can appreciate this as a coming-of-age movie, about young people becoming adults, whose sole cause for self-esteem is youth hockey. Just like me. And on that level, it's phenomenal.

So anyway, the Ducks are accepted on scholarship to a Minnesota private school. All the kids in the school are Aryan douches who hate the Ducks. They inexplicably are given a new coach, who seems like a real asshole, but actually coaches. They get into a prank war against the varsity kids. They are nearly kicked out for no real reason. Then, they end up beating the varsity 1-0 in a defense-happy finale.

The Cast:

Okay, Estevez, I'm calling you out. It's 1996, you're one role since D2 was getting crushed by an elevator in Mission: Impossible. Why oh why are you only in this movie for 10 minutes? Don't tell me the story was written this way. Did you not want to be a part of this trilogy you had been so committed to since the beginning? I'll go to my grave asking why Grady left Pedro in after the 7th, and why Emilio Estevez had such a small role in D3.

I guess the lack of Bombay is OK, considering the intensity Pacey brings to the movie. My god, Charlie Conway is pissed all throughout this movie. Was he already auditioning for Dawson's Creek at this point?

As for the rest, Charlie's girlfriend: B- (underdeveloped hippie-esque character, but she's hot, so that's worth something), Coach Orion: A+++ (filled Bombay's shoes admirably, was well-acted, and knew a lot about hockey. This movie had real balls making a pre-teen sports movie about defense and goaltending. Bravo.)

The Best Part:

Tricky, since the movie lacks any of the epic chill scenes from the first two films. Even the end game is hideously anti-climactic. The opposing coach is so non-descript, I don't even remember his name (a real letdown after the Evil Coaches in the first two).

Let's see, I really liked the scene where Bombay fights to let the Ducks keep their scholarships, the prank war was OK; I get a little misty when Bombay shows up for 5 seconds to put the Ducks jersey on Hans' coffin. At gunpoint, I'll take Bombay taking Charlie to see Orion skating with his crippled daughter. Really sad stuff, changed the whole movie for me. Stop laughing at me.

The Worst Part:

Easy. Right off the bat, Goldberg losing control of his rollerblades and nearly dying 10 times before Charlie saves him. It's annoying, not funny, makes Goldberg look like more of a big fat doofus, and changes the movie's tone from dark and intense to forced silliness. Boy, I sounded like Roger Ebert right there.

My Final Thought:

The perfect end to the perfect trilogy. Rings, my ass.