The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers

STREAMING REVIEW:

Disney+;
Family Comedy;
Not rated.
Stars Lauren Graham, Brady Noon, Maxwell Simkins, Swayam Bhatia, Julee Cerda, Luke Islam, Bella Higginbotham, Taegen Burns, Kiefer O’Reilly, De’Jon Watts, Emilio Estevez.

Nearly 30 years after the first Mighty Ducks movie, “The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers” perfectly captures the spirit of the original films, which is to say it’s a bit cheesy, a touch sentimental, and a whole lot of fun.

For those not up on their Ducks history, the team traces its origins to the first film in 1992, when hotshot attorney Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez) is nabbed for a DUI and forced into community service coaching a ragtag group of misfits in a Minnesota peewee ice hockey league. That core group of kids then becomes Team U.S.A. in the 1994 sequel, before heading off to high school together in the 1996 third movie, embracing the motto “Ducks Fly Together.”

Picking up 25 years later, the Ducks have become a powerhouse of Minnesota youth hockey, embodying the winning-is-everything attitude that the original team always fought against.

When one of the Ducks players, Evan Morrow (Brady Noon), is cut from the team for not being able to train in the offseason with private coaches and devoting all of his free time to improving at hockey for the sake of the team, his mother, Alex (Lauren Graham), decides to start a new hockey team for all the other kids who don’t quite fit in, under the motto “Putting Fun First.” They call themselves the Don’t Bothers, after being told by the Ducks coach that they shouldn’t even try to compete.

In need of a home arena for the Don’t Bothers, Alex happens across the Ice Palace, a run down rink managed by Bombay himself, who has fallen on hard times the past few decades after bending some recruiting rules while serving as a college coach at some point. Gordon claims to be sick of hockey and kids, and only lets the Don’t Bothers use the rink because he needs their stipend to stay in business. Soon enough, however, Alex and the team help Gordon rediscover the passion for the game that he hasn’t known since he was the Ducks’ coach so many years ago, and he helps them prepare for the inevitable final showdown with the Mighty Ducks.

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The show’s first season, consisting of 10 episodes, brings in a number of memorable characters who, like most characters in the franchise, have plenty of quirks that translate into unconventional hockey skills.

The storylines are about one what might expect from a show like this. The new team has to recruit players and learn how to play together. When they start to win, Alex lets it go to her head as she starts to adopt the same training tactics they wanted to get away from. And Gordon gets a visit from some of the original Ducks players to both tickle fans’ nostalgia bones and remind everyone what they’re playing for — the spirit of the Ducks.

The show is filled with callbacks to the original films — some overt, some more subtle — which should please longtime fans without confusing new viewers. Though, really, it’s not too hard to check out the trilogy before diving into the show. The movies are on Disney+ too.

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Among the best gags related to the movies: the Hawks, the bad guy powerhouse team from the original film, is now the worst team in the league prior to the Don’t Bothers joining. And the music makes liberal use of the classic Mighty Ducks theme. And, like the movies, the show kind of fudges the semantics and rules of youth leagues for the sake of the story. For example, teams are seemingly allowed to poach players from rival teams, which in most leagues is called tampering and is illegal.

But the show also makes references to past events that raise a few questions by not quite matching what was in the films, such as Bombay’s hockey career after the first film. Also, references to the “original” Ducks include players who weren’t in the first movie but were introduced in the sequels.

However, these are minor quibbles easily glossed over with a bit of head canon if the show doesn’t want to address them, and certainly shouldn’t take away from enjoyment of this series.

Good Boys

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 11/12/19;
Universal;
Comedy;
Box Office $83.08 million;
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for strong crude sexual content, drug and alcohol material, and language throughout — all involving tweens.
Stars Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams, Brady Noon, Molly Gordon, Midori Francis, Izaac Wang, Millie Davis, Josh Caras, Will Forte, Sam Richardson, Stephen Merchant.

As Master Yoda once said, “Truly wonderful the mind of a child is.” But what happens when you make them wonder about sex, drugs and random debauchery?

And that’s where Good Boys comes in, and the fact that it comes from Seth Rogen’s production team pretty much explains exactly what to expect from the film.

It’s Stand by Me meets American Pie, a satire of the simplistic perspective kids tend to have of things. As such, it mines the intersection of the innocence of children and the seediness of the adult world for great laughs.

The question of whether how appropriate it is for such a young cast to form the basis of a film like this is not lost on the filmmakers and comes up several times in the bonus materials. Before the film had come out they had already hit upon the audacious marketing hook that the film was too raunchy for its young stars to even see it. Nowhere is this concept more prominent than on the film’s own Blu-ray box art, which comes emblazoned with an oversized graphic of the MPAA ‘R’ rating and the three main characters glancing upward at a line proclaiming “You Must Be This Tall to See This Movie.”

The film stars up-and-comer Jacob Tremblay as 12-year-old Max, who gets invited to a kissing party and freaks out because he doesn’t want his inexperience to scare off the girl that he likes. So he enlists his best friends, Thor (Brady Noon) and Lucas (Keith L. Williams) to help him research how to kiss. Eventually, the group, who call themselves the Bean Bag Boys, decide to use an expensive drone that is the prized possession of Max’s father (Will Forte) to spy on some local teenagers making out.

But when the drone gets destroyed, the Bean Bag Boys must scheme to come up with the funds to replace it, skip school and embark on a trek to the local mall (a distant journey of at least four miles) to replace it before Max’s dad gets home and grounds him so that he can’t go to the party. Along the way, they must deal with the teenagers they were spying on hunting them down for drugs they accidentally stole, not to mention cops, frat boys, sex toys and the peer pressure of drinking more than three sips of beer.

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The Blu-ray includes a fun, laid-back commentary from the film’s co-writers — director Gene Stupnitsky and producer Lee Eisenberg — that covers many of the inspirations for the film and the specific jokes involved.

There’s a two-minute alternate ending and more than 10 minutes of deleted and alternate scenes, many of which are alluded to in the commentary.

Also included is a two-minute gag reel and six featurettes that provide about 14 minutes of behind-the-scenes material. These offer the usual tidbits about the cast and filmmaking process, including the interesting nugget that the school used in the film was Tremblay’s actual school in Vancouver.

But it all comes back to the filthy language used by the young stars, and some hilarious discussions about how they have no idea what the dialogue they’ve been given to say actually means.

The mind of a child, indeed.