Did you know that Wyatt Russell has a hockey card? Yes, the actor who plays John Walker — a.k.a. the new Captain America — in the Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier used to be a pro hockey player. His hockey card is from a set of movie trading cards made to promote the film Goon: Last of the Enforcers. Russell’s life — going from hockey player, to actor playing hockey player, to actor playing Captain America — took an interesting and unconventional road.
“Hockey Moms” — the fourth episode of The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers — is about the characters moving out of their comfort zones, and doing what is right instead of what is easy. The episode focuses on a showdown between the the Don’t Bothers moms and the Ducks moms in a skills competition.
Note: This review contains very minor spoilers and assumes you’ve seen Episodes 1-3 of Game Changers.
“At least we’re the good guys. And the good guys always win in the end. Or we learn a lesson about ourselves. Either way, it’s a ‘W’.”
– Evan, to Sofi, in Episode 3 of The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers.
Things go from better to worse, but then slightly better again, for the Don’t Bothers in the third episode of The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers. Evan and his teammates work as a team, but not on the ice; Continue reading “Review: The Mighty Ducks Game Changers, Season 1, Episode 3”
NOTE: This review contains minor spoilers and about Episodes 1 and 2.
Duster – [duhs-ter] noun: a player who does not get a lot of playing time and collects dust sitting on the bench.
“Dusters,” the second episode of The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, is a fitting description of the underdogs recruited to play on the new team — called The Don’t Bothers, as a dig to what Coach T. told 12-year-old Evan Morrow in the first episode. (“It’s like at this stage, if you can’t be great at hockey, don’t bother.”)
On any other team, each of the kids on the Don’t Bothers would be a duster, mainly sitting on the bench and only getting a few token shifts if the team is up by a lot of goals. But here, each one is a vital piece. Continue reading “Review: The Mighty Ducks Game Changers, Season 1, Episode 2”
Youth hockey has changed a lot over the past 25 years — and much of it not for the better. While equipment, training and nutrition have all improved, gone are the carefree days of playing a sport with friends and having fun. It’s all so serious now. Much of youth sports today, particularly hockey, are fixated on getting kids to the next level, without really enjoying the level that they are at. The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, a new series on Disney+, is a sports drama about a youth hockey team of cast-offs, told that they weren’t good enough, that just want to play the game they love.
NOTE: This review does not contain any spoilers but it does mention some plot points that have already been disclosed in the trailer and press release.
I have an unpopular opinion to share: D3: The Mighty Ducks (1996) is better than D2: The Mighty Ducks (1994). No, D3 is not as good as the first Mighty Ducks movie from 1992, and yes, it does recycle a lot of the same elements from its two predecessors. But instead of trying to raise the stakes by putting the Ducks in an even bigger tournament, D3 shifts the focus to perhaps the greatest challenge in everyone’s life: growing up.
Think about it for a moment.
Everyone has a favorite time from their childhood. But then we all reach a point where we realize that the world around us is changing, we are getting older, and that things will never be the same, no matter how hard we wish otherwise.
We all struggle with that change to some extent, and everyone deals with that change differently.
D3: The Mighty Ducks isn’t so much a sports film as it is a coming-of-age film. It is about learning to let go of the things that we found comfort in during our youth and taking on the unknown.
After the success of The Mighty Ducks in 1992, Disney immediately went to work on the sequel and released D2: The Mighty Ducks in early 1994. Like most sequels, D2 is not as good as the original. It is the typical follow-up in the way that it raises the stakes while also rehashing much of the first film, albeit with some new characters and new uniforms.
Note that my “retro review” of D2: The Mighty Ducks assumes that you’ve seen the first film. This review also contains some D2 spoilers, but that’s OK, because reading this will save you two hours of your life.
With The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers streaming series premiering on Disney+ this Friday, now seemed like a good time to re-watch and review the original The Mighty Ducks trilogy of films. The first Ducks is one of the all-time great hockey movies, and I am very excited that it is being spun-off into a hockey-themed TV show.
But first, I have a confession to make. Continue reading “Movie Review: The Mighty Ducks”
“Red Penguins” is a new hockey documentary about the strange partnership between the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Russian Red Army hockey team and the Walt Disney Corporation. Back in the early 1990s, the famed Red Army hockey team was broke, so it reached out to NHL teams for help. The Pittsburgh Penguins answered the call, and for two seasons co-owned the Red Army team, re-branding it as the Russian Penguins.
Things went well at first. Pittsburgh Penguins ownership brought in a marketing team that introduced “North American Hockey” to an unsuspecting Russian fan base — from opening-night theatrics, game-night giveaways, strippers (seriously), bears drinking beer and more. It was nothing like Russian hockey fans had ever seen. Unfortunately, this also drew the attention of the Russian Mob, who wanted a piece of the action, too. And that’s when things really go off the rails.
If this story sounds familiar to you, it is because I wrote about it last year for The Hockey News. Last fall, “Red Penguins” was featured at the Toronto International Film Festival and received strong reviews. The film was set to be released in theaters this spring, but then the COVID-19 pandemic swept the continent and closed theaters.
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk.
November 20, 2019
Earlier today, I was a guest on the SiriusXM NHL Radio talk show “Under Review,” hosted by Mick Kern and Peter Berce. We talk about the hockey movie “Mystery, Alaska” as well as my article for The Hockey News about that film. We also talk about the Puck Junk Podcast and the new line of Puck Junk t-shirts. The segment is a quick listen — just 15 minutes.
You can listen to “Under Review” everyday on SiriusXM Radio or online here. ■
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk.