Mighty Ducks review: Game Changers: a Disney show with a punchy message

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Charlatan. Charlatan. Quack quack. It has been 25 years since The Mighty Ducks 3 skated in theaters, and I always feel like I’m contractually obligated to duck song. It’s the unyielding power of nostalgia, where a mental time capsule can capture a memory in amber and keep the ravages of cynicism and decline at bay. The Mighty Ducks: game changers, the new 10-episode Disney Plus series (three episodes have been offered for review) has that warm, fuzzy feeling in spades, while also creating its own identity by describing what has changed since we last saw it. hockey team that appeals to the title crowd.

A far cry from the motley crew of the original 1992 film, who had no coaching and had no talent to accompany them, the modern Mighty Ducks of Game changers now consistently dominate the Minnesota Junior Division, with a total of 10 outstanding state championships. Reluctant hero Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez) is no longer coaching the team he turned from adorable losers into adorable winners. Instead, an apathetic dude-brother is currently leading the now unfriendly, machine-like team. With Steven Brill as lead writer, and Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa as showrunners, Game changers is a fun series about redemption and new friendships, composed to familiar beats, aimed at young viewers as well as former fans.

Game changers features a dazzling and hilarious review of today’s youth sports and how they promise gullible and grandiose parents that if they pay for their kid’s off-season training, hire a fitness guru and psychologist , and buy the best gear, their 12-year-old can not only win a college scholarship, but someday go pro. This is, of course, a pipe dream, and the industrial youth sports complex could just as easily be a Ponzi scheme. Game changers shows how the child’s play career approach ultimately hurts children who actually play. Put simply, today’s Ducks are gifted jerks who not only revel in the pyrotechnic light show and awe-inspiring sound system that dominates the arena before every game, but they pride themselves on the status symbol of being Mighty Ducks.

Photo: Disney Plus

At the start of the season, 12-year-old Evan (Brady Noon) is knocked down from that coveted pedestal, much to the chagrin of his stupid but well-meaning single mom Alex (Lauren Graham, Gilmore Girls and Parenting). While Alex herself works in a mortgage law firm, she believes that sports should be fun for the kids. For her, winning doesn’t matter if it takes a childhood away from her. Because of this philosophy, Alex refuses to sign Evan up for summer training or hire a fitness expert, nutrition coach, or sports psychologist to improve his skills. As a result, Evan enters hockey camp noticeably smaller, slower, and less skillful than his teammates. His coach believes that anyone Evan’s age should show professional promise, or that he shouldn’t bother to play. (This sentiment is all too common in contemporary youth sports.) Evan is summarily excluded from the team.

Anyone who knows the first Mighty ducks notice the obvious nods present in this iteration. After Evan is cut, Alex follows Coach Bombay’s shoes, moving from her law firm job to coaching the team she calls the “Don’t Bothers”. Alex forms the team not only to give his son a chance to play, but also to give other kids who have been told they weren’t good enough a chance to participate. There’s one hurdle though: Evan needs to find players who don’t already fit his old team. He brings in a wobbly podcaster, the lovable Maxwell Simkins, as a co-conspirator. The duo find a beefy video player (Luke Islam) who could perform well as a goalkeeper. Other members of the team include a nunchuck-wielding girl (Bella Higginbotham) trying to exorcise her anger issues, a popular girl (Taegen Burns) who wants to be an individual, a daredevil skateboarder (De’Jon Watts) with an aversion to the rules, and a conventional hunk (Kiefer O’Reilly) who recently relocated from Canada. They’re all bad at hockey, but like the original Bombay Ducks, the mix of disparate personalities should be accessible to tweens and young audiences alike.

The draw for parents, on the other hand, will be Emilio Estevez’s return to the franchise. Once the Don’t Bothers have a team and a coach, they just need a place to play. They find him in the dilapidated Ice Palace, which aptly belongs to Coach Bombay. In a series filled with nostalgic nods, her role is most important. But even his role has been rearranged to put him back into a familiar frame of mind. As in the first Mighty ducksBombay has once again lost its love for the game. “No Hockey” signs are proliferating in the Ice Palace. He also scarves cakes left over from birthday parties, trying to tone down his bitterness. Kids’ hockey is now played as a career vehicle, and Coach Bombay’s purist spirit cannot stand it.

Like Bombay, Estevez has a grumpy charm. He would prefer that this team were not in his rink, but he can’t help but want to help them. Equally touching: Estevez and Graham’s back-and-forth relationship, as Alex asks for advice and Bombay sardonically refuses it. Plus, the Bombay office’s production design, filled with vintage woodwork and photographs, is a beautiful snapshot of a type of skating rink never before seen today.

While Game changers is witty, there are difficult parts to the story. The age range in which Evan plays is 12-14, which allows for physical contact between the players. The Mighty ducks the movies were all about kids taking hard knocks for comedic value. But knowing what we now know about athletes and CTE – the degenerative disease of the brain caused by repeated physical trauma – playing those same hits for a laugh is off-putting. A few fatphobic jokes have already arisen around the character of Islam. Even in a series based on nostalgia, not everything about 90s humor needs to be put back on the table.

Regardless, these quick half-hour episodes bring light, family-friendly laughs by giving young viewers a bunch of outcasts they can relate to, while giving parents not only heaps of nostalgia, but a commendable review as well. hockey for young people. All done The Mighty Ducks: game changers a good naughty time.

The Mighty Ducks: game changers debuts on Disney Plus on Friday, March 26, with new episodes airing on Friday.

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