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.

‘The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers’ to Premiere on Disney+ March 26

The new original series “The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers” will premiere on the Disney+ streaming service March 26.

The 10-episode follow-up to the “Mighty Ducks” movies of the 1990s is set in present-day Minnesota and finds the Ducks have evolved from scrappy underdogs to an ultra-competitive, powerhouse youth hockey team. After 12-year-old Evan Morrow (Brady Noon) is unceremoniously cut from the Ducks, he and his mom, Alex (Lauren Graham), set out to build their own team of misfits to challenge the cutthroat, win-at-all-costs culture of youth sports today. With the help of former Ducks coach Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez, reprising his role from the films), they rediscover the joys of playing just for love of the game.

The cast also includes up-and-coming young actors such as Maxwell Simkins, Swayam Bhatia, Luke Islam, Kiefer O’Reilly, Taegen Burns, Bella Higginbotham and DJ Watts.

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“The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers” is produced by ABC Signature, a part of Disney Television Studios. Steve Brill, the original creator, writer and executive producer of all three films returns as co-creator and executive producer of the new series. Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa (“The King of Queens,” “13 Going On 30”) also are co-creators and will serve as executive producers and showrunners.

Disney+ Launching ‘Summer Movie Nights’ July 3

Subscription streaming service Disney+ is set to launch its first “Summer Movie Nights,” featuring a lineup of brand new original and newly announced family movies.

Viewers can use #DisneyPlusMovieNights and follow Disney+ on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for live Q&As, watch parties and exclusive content bringing the excitement of the summer movie season into their homes.

Beginning Friday, July 3, with the premiere of Hamilton, the filmed version of the original Broadway production, subscribers can watch catalog titles and original features premiering every week.

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Titles include:

Hamilton combines the best elements of live theater, film and streaming to bring the cultural phenomenon to homes around the world for a thrilling, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The Mighty Ducks (July 3) — Emilio Estevez portrays a trial attorney who gets a community service assignment: coaching a hapless group of pee wee hockey players.

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Friday, July 10
X-Men: Days of Future Past — Characters from the original X-Men film trilogy join forces with their younger selves in an epic struggle to change the past and save our future.
Solo: A Star Wars Story — Through a series of daring escapades, Han Solo befriends his mighty future copilot Chewbacca in an epic adventure directed by Ron Howard and written by Jonathan & Lawrence Kasdan.

Friday, July 17
X-Men: Apocalypse — Apocalypse, the most powerful mutant in the universe, tries to destroy all of mankind. To save humanity, Professor X leads the X-Men in a showdown that will determine the fate of the world.

Friday, July 24
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales — Captain Jack Sparrow is pursued by old rival Captain Salazar and a crew of deadly ghosts who escape from the Devil’s Triangle, determined to kill every pirate at sea … notably him.

Friday, July 31
Incredibles 2 — Helen is called on to help bring Supers back, and Bob must juggle the daily heroics of home life. But when a new villain arises with a sinister plot, the Parrs meet the challenge together!

Friday, Aug. 7
X-Men – The X-Men, a group of mutants with extraordinary powers, wage a fight against both intolerance, and a fellow band of radical mutants intent on exterminating the human race.

The Peanuts Movie — Snoopy, the world’s most lovable beagle and flying ace takes to the skies to pursue his arch-nemesis The Red Baron, while his best pal, Charlie Brown, begins his own epic quest.

Friday, Aug. 14
Ant-Man and The Wasp — As he struggles to balance his home life and Super Hero duties, Scott Lang finds he must suit up as Ant-Man again, joining the Wasp on an urgent mission to uncover secrets from the past.

The Greatest Showman — Hugh Jackman stars in this bold and original musical, inspired by the ambition and imagination of P.T. Barnum, celebrating the birth of show business and dreams coming to life.

Friday, Aug. 21
Beauty and the Beast (2017) — The story and characters you love come to life in the live-action adaptation of Disney’s animated classic, a cinematic event celebrating one of the most beloved tales ever told.

Friday, Aug. 28
Fantastic Four (2005) — Transformed into superheroes after surviving a disaster in space, The Fantastic Four struggle to reconcile their powers, responsibilities and relationships as a dysfunctional family. Overcoming their personal conflicts, they finally join forces to defeat Dr. Doom, the malevolent, metallic embodiment of their treacherous former patron.

Alice Through the Looking Glass — When Alice comes across a magical looking glass and returns to the fantastical realm of Underland, she discovers that her friend the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) has lost his Muchness and embarks on a perilous race to save him before time runs out.

Friday, Sept. 4
The Wolverine — The Wolverine returns to face his ultimate nemesis in an action packed battle that takes him to modern day Japan; an epic fight that will change him forever.

“Disney Bundle” subs (Disney+, ESPN+, Hulu) will also have new movies premiering throughout on Hulu, including the premiere of Palm Springs on July 10, alongside ESPN+’s library of original documentaries and films. Additional library titles and premiere dates will be announced in the Next on Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ monthly listings email.

Emilio Estevez Returning to ‘Mighty Ducks’ on Disney+ Show

Emilio Estevez will reprise his role as Coach Gordon Bombay in the upcoming Disney+ original series “The Mighty Ducks.” Estevez played the coach in the three theatrical “Mighty Ducks” movies released by Disney in the 1990s.

The 10-episode series based on those films will premiere later this year on the streaming service.  In addition to starring, Estevez will serve as an executive producer.

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“Once a Duck, always a Duck!,” Estevez said in a statement, “and after 25 years, I am delighted to lace up my skates, put on Coach Bombay’s jacket and return to play the iconic character for this new chapter in ‘The Mighty Ducks’ franchise.”

Estevez will join previously announced series regulars Lauren Graham and Brady Noon. Also joining the cast are Swayam Bhatia, Taegen Burns, Julee Cerda, Bella Higginbotham, Luke Islam, Kiefer O’Reilly, Maxwell Simkins and De’Jon Watts.

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In the original film, Gordon Bombay was an attorney whose drunk driving arrest led to community service coaching a misfit youth hockey team, turning them into winners. Subsequent films found Bombay coaching the Ducks players in international competitions and helping them in high school.

The new storyline finds the Mighty Ducks youth hockey team evolved from scrappy underdogs to an ultra-competitive, powerhouse program. After 12-year-old Evan (Noon) is unceremoniously cut from the Ducks, he and his mom, Alex (Graham), set out to build their own ragtag team of misfits to challenge the cutthroat, win-at-all-costs culture of competitive youth sports. With the help of Bombay, they discover the joys of playing just for the love of the game.