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‘The Mighty Ducks’ (PG)

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
October 05, 1992

Give "The Bad News Bears" pads and a puck and you've got "The Mighty Ducks," a ragtag team of peewee hockey players who turn a losing streak into a Cinderella story with the help of a supportive coach. At first, the coach doesn't even want the job, which is usually a penance for drinking, but a couple of encounters with the kids and he's solidly in their corner chewing towels. (See Walter Matthau in "Bears" and Tom Hanks in "A League of Their Own.")

Emilio Estevez plays the grousing mentor, Gordon Bombay, an obnoxious lawyer who was apparently named for brands of gin. Bombay is arrested for driving under the influence and sentenced to 500 hours of Duck work. "I hate hockey and I hate kids," says Bombay by way of introducing himself to the players, the invariably cute kiddie rainbow coalition. Of course, Bombay really loves hockey, a sport at which he excelled as a child -- till the day he missed a penalty shot, lost the championship game and let everybody down.

His paternal instincts surface when he befriends Charlie (Joshua Jackson), a spunky little skater who reminds him of himself when he was a peewee player. Bombay's former team, the Hawks, is still coached by the unsportsmanlike villain (Lane Smith) who turned Bombay into an overly aggressive workaholic. The Hawks become the Ducks' chief nemesis in their slavishly formulaic quest for the championship.

Steven Brill, who has a small role in the film, constructed the screenplay much as one would put together some of those particleboard bookcases from Ikea. It's directed by Stephen Herek of "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure," which is Oscar material by comparison with "The Mighty Ducks." Estevez seems to have spent the entire movie thinking about his bill. What a bunch of quacks.

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