D3: The Mighty Ducks
1996, PG, 104 min. Directed by Robert Lieberman. Starring Emilio Estevez, Jeffrey Nordling, David Selby, Heidi Kling, Joss Ackland.
REVIEWED By Nick Barbaro, Fri., Oct. 11, 1996
Yes, they're all back, those lovable cut-ups you remember from Mighty Ducks and D2 -- Banks, Fulton, the wise-cracking Averman, Connie, even Goldberg, the pudgy, awkward goalie. Only they're high-school age now and, get this, they all get recruited to be the JV squad at some toney prep school with a blue-blood hockey tradition. Since everyone's a stereotype, the preppies are stuck-up. They hate the Ducks -- even try to take their jerseys and team identity away (very important, that, we'll come back to it in a moment) -- tempers flare, lessons are learned, and it all boils down to The Big Game. It makes for an entertaining enough hour and a half, but hey, we've seen this all before, and better. There are hints that even the filmmakers realize this, and that there may not be a D4 -- there are maudlin flashbacks at beginning and end, the production company was named Gordon's Last Song (after the character played by Estevez, who has his name above the title but is onscreen for less than five minutes), heck, even Hans, the kindly old skate-sharpener, croaks -- but then, Disney does own an NHL hockey team, and they've proven that they can churn out these cookie-cutter 100-minute promo pieces for them, so maybe we can look forward to something like Millennium Ducks, wherein the team finishes school and gets drafted en masse by the Anaheim NHL franchise. Shudder. Stick a fork in it; this series is done. Oh, and about those jerseys: I'll spare you my treatise on the post-Jeffrey Katzenberg decline of Disney Pictures into merely the marketing arm of Disney Enterprises, Inc., but why do you suppose there's a big scene in every Duck movie where the kids affirm their selfhood by losing, then earning back, their official Mighty Duck® jerseys? Could it be because the Mighty Ducks have one of the most lucrative merchandising arms in all of pro sports? Was director Lieberman tabbed for this project because he had a 25-year history making award-winning TV spots? Say it ain't so, Mike.