Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Philosophy of the Flying V

Uh oh, look at all these wacky kids! You know craziness will ensue!

Sometimes I forget that other people on the Internet, you know, write stuff. But by chance, I stumbled upon this blog the other day, which is really quite grand, and specifically, this post, about the top 10 selfish sports teams of the 1990s. The relevant overlap to this post I'm crafting right now would be the following paragraph about D2: The Mighty Ducks:

Question: How does a team that barely makes it to the post season in their crappy neighborhood hockey league get selected to represent our nation in the Junior Olympic Goodwill games? Coach Gordon Bombay that's how. I understand hiring Bombay as your coach. The man is an innovator, I mean the flying V? Come on, that's just good hockey. But why choose the whole Mighty Ducks team for Team USA? You're going to tell me that Goldberg was the best goalie our country had to offer?
I concur with bricksexplode (or Josh, his actual name). (And also, creepily enough, he and I have practically the same take and story about Wake Up Ron Burgandy.) Even as a 10-year-old kid, the second Mighty Ducks movie was so implausible to me that it ruined all of the good feelings created in the first one. The series morphed from a plausible story of a team of misfits to a ridiculous farce of a movie with no basis in reality. The final installment is actually somewhat realistic, but I am apparently the only person in the world who enjoys watching it.

The first movie, while no cinematic masterpiece, was a great movie of its type. Just about any kid can relate to being a sort of outcast portrayed in the movie, especially a geeky young kid like myself. Even though I never had (and still haven't) ice skated, there are obvious parallels between other sports and other movies - Little League (The Bad News Bears), Pop Warner football (Little Giants, even though it came out later), basketball (... um, I'm sure there is one I'm forgetting).

It also had a memorable cast of characters with easily-identifiable counterparts in my everyday life. While they weren't exact matches with my friends, there were shared traits: the brash-talking Jessie, the smart-alecky Averman, the fat kid no one actually wanted to hang out with (Goldberg), and the big tough guy Fulton. There was also the subtly-hot Connie, who turned into the actually hot Marguerite Moreau. She has been in 43 credited roles, yet I'm fairly certain I've only ever seen her in The Mighty Ducks films. Everyone also has a friend like Connie - You know she is kind of normal-looking now, but for no discernible reason except for a hunch, you know she will eventually be drop-dead gorgeous.

But let me digress from my sexist digression to the actual topic I started out with. D1 is the classic underdog tale, on ice, and you feel great when they win the championship. The story is as predictible as a Subway sandwich - what else would you expect from Disney, or from a $5 footlong? - but ultimately somewhat believable and satisfying.

The second is just pure "let's make a buck!" fuckery that made me eventually dislike all these movies from Disney. As bricksexplode brings up, the most ludicrous idea is that a team that barely made the playoffs in a Minnesota youth hockey league would represent the United States. I grew up in the woods of Rhode Island, and even our Little League all-star team that would try to qualify for the Little League World Series would be a combination of the best players from all the league's teams. (Speaking to my athletic prowess as a kid, I never came close to making one.)

Deciding to just reunite the whole team is so transparent and shitty, and the opening scenes are some of the worst of the movie. Looking back at it as a 25-year-old, there are a couple plausible ways you could do it. First, instead of setting the movie in Los Angeles, why not have these games come to Minnesota? Then it is more plausible that you'd have to use the Ducks. Or, failing that, at least have some flashback scenes with the Ducks winning a couple regional tournaments and earning their way to L.A. Or, because the kids all live in the same area, and are roughly the same age, why not just have the sequel take place (brace yourself) a year later? Because I had played Little League, D2 immediately seemed fake to me, because even as a kid I realized that shit with L.A. would never happen.

Okay though, looking past that - What the fuck did Iceland ever do to you, Disney? Like, seriously, it is bad enough that they have a horrible, false country name (according to weather.com, Iceland is roughly the same weather-wise as New England right now). Hey Mouse, why do you have to shit all over them by making them the obviously-Soviet Union inspired enemy? Either make up a fake country or leave the Icelanders alone.

Anyway, the Ducks recruit some players from other parts of the country for no good reason. I mean, non-movie, they're to include some non-white people in the cast, but in-movie, Gordon Bombay hates them and barely plays any of them. I don't think most return for the third movie, which is great, except for the Goon, who is clearly not even close to being the right age for D2 and D3. The Ducks also recruit a young, trash-talking Kenan Thompson in his film debut, and he is kind of OK despite using a preposterous shot. Also, really, he's playing street hockey out in L.A.? Not basketball? Not skateboarding? Not surfing? L.A. does have that intense hockey tradition, after all.

The whole movie is effing absurd, and if you like D2 the most out of the three, I don't know what's wrong with you. Pull yourself together! Oddly enough, I think it was too much overt zaniness even for Disney, because they went the opposite direction for D3. I actually like that movie because it is super serious and (shockingly) focuses on hockey from time to time. It is plausible (at least in terms of the movie world) that a private school would recruit the Ducks, because the dominant Rhode Island private schools mostly cherry pick their athletes from Rhode Island public schools. D3 also has some redeeming value with the introduction of their new coach. He lacks the charm of Gordon Bombay, but he is an interesting character at least.

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