Belated Film Review: The 20th Anniversary of ‘The Mighty Ducks’

20 years ago today, The Mighty Ducks announced its arrival. For the first time since 1812, Canadians and Americans could relate to each other. Joshua Jackson showed up. Emilio Estevez peaked. And, that webbed figure left a footprint that would give birth to an eventual Stanley Cup champion. In. Anaheim. California.

It started with an innocent DUI.

“Breath, blood, or urine?” the cop says.

“No, thanks,” says Coach Bombay. “I’m full.”

As far as live action goes, Disney took a huge step with The Mighty Ducks. Gone were films like The Black Cauldron or Sleeping Beauty. Well, not gone, thank goodness. But, America’s greatest film corporation had a new direction.

They could grab kids by the pencil cases and they could do it with a real budget and real actors. Wayne Gretzky gets all kinds of credit for bringing hockey to Los Angeles, but it was The Mighty Ducks and its sequels that brought hockey to children in the United States.

So what if their toughest competition in D2 was Iceland and Trinidad & Tobago?

To an entire generation of children, teenagers, and (now) adults, Emilio wasn’t known as the immature jock from The Breakfast Club. Now, he was Coach Bombay.

The sarcastic jokes that became the offspring of the Ducks series were the whole basis for semi-serious sports networks like The Score. If Grantland had any sense, they would be writing about the Ducks instead of forcing a Bill Simmons-led recap of Cocktail.

(Although, the Punky Brewster version of Rembert Explains was pretty hilarious.)

Even to this day – upon hearing that Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012 is the 20th anniversary of the Ducks first theatrical release – the film can make you remember things your brain has long tried to forget. You remember when Charlie protested against Bombay, and failed to fake injury in the corner to draw a penalty. You remember the phrase Triple Deke. You remember Julie the Cat snagging that shot from Gunner Stahl to deliver a gold at the Junior Goodwill Games, in D2.

The movie’s 20 years of existence are proof that video rental stores still have some use. How else are we supposed to watch it?

After 20 years, there’s not enough you can say about one of the greatest all-time sports franchises. Slap Shot was a one-off. Same goes for Hoosiers, The Natural, or even The Color of Money.

But, the Ducks? Eternal gold, baby.