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A Look Back… D2: The Mighty Ducks

June 21, 2010 Leave a comment

In the midst of the World Cup, and the United States’ upcoming invasion of Mali, it’s as good a time as any to revisit D2: The Mighty Ducks and the site of ‘The Miracle on Ice’ for my generation; the 1994 Junior Goodwill games. Truly a seminal film, its legacy can still be felt today. I bet you didn’t even know you hated Iceland until this movie was released and taught us how terrible they were. The Ducks got their own Stanley Cup winning NHL team named after them. We’re talking about a movie that did more to make hockey popular in the U.S. than Wayne Gretzky ever could.

This isn’t a review of the film in a conventional sense as we’ve already established D2 as an American classic; but re-watching the film as an adult did raise some questions that I apparently missed growing up.


1. Who is running Hendrix Hockey, and why have they not been fired?

The only representative of Hendrix we meet is Don Tibbles, a buffoonish character who operates with impunity. His first action on-screen is to hire Gordon Bombay on the basis of one peewee hockey championship and the prodding of an old, Norwegian hockey equipment retailer in Minnesota. Then there’s the whole side story about Hendrix having a vested interest in Team USA winning the gold medal, based on all the money they are throwing the coach’s way, including endorsement deals and his own line of high-class loafers (The Air Bombay).

I thought about it and I can’t come close to naming a single amateur coach in any sport, so I’m not  sure exactly what market they were looking to tap into. Couple that with the fact that we know at the very least Coach Bombay was pulling down a hefty salary, there was that rented apartment in Malibu, and Hendrix threw enough money at General Mills to get a Wheaties box in the teams honor. What kind of payoff were they realistically expecting? Since he’s the only suit we ever see, Tibbles may have indeed been the company’s CEO, but there’s no way they wouldn’t have gone bankrupt by then.

2. How did Trinidad make it into the field?

No mismatch here.

Coming off of the success of Cool Runnings, Disney just decided to run with the whole ‘Caribbean nation playing winter sports’ angle. They even went so far as to feature the matchup on the film’s cover art. I guess they overestimated the regional impact of bobsledding. Still, at least Trinidad managed to score against the U.S., which is more than can be said about Italy. Really, 11-0? There isn’t a mercy rule in the Goodwill Games?

More to the point, why were Trinidad and Italy the featured preliminary games? For years, I thought Canada was completely absent from the tournament until further research proved otherwise. It turns out U.S. even played both Canada and the Russian team that managed to beat Iceland in the quarterfinals. Sure these movies weren’t really about the hockey, but if you ask a 10 year-old which countries love hockey, Trinidad and Tobago don’t even make it into the conversation. And that whole Black roller hockey team in South Central L.A. interlude? Really?

3. Is Coach Stansson the greatest villain ever in a kid’s movie?

I do more than sweep the leg.

Let’s start with the name, Wolf ‘The Dentist’ Stansson. He doesn’t need to say a word and his badass credentials have been established. He makes his introduction by breaking into Coach Bombay’s press conference to trash talk his competition… at the Junior GOODWILL Games. He then goes on to mock Bombay’s dead father, encourage his players to injure the much smaller Ducks, and even takes out the Minnesota Miracle Man with a hockey stick. Plus, he pulls off the whole sneering, smarmy European stereotype so well.

With all due respect to the Cobra Kai and the legend of Zabka, I say yes.

4. Greenland is covered with ice, and Iceland is very nice.

There’s not even a question there, It’s just one of the many helpful teaching moments Disney threw in the film along the way. Also, ice cream dates are always a good idea.

Team USA… bigger than the MLB Strike in ’94

5. Nobody notices Keenan (Russ Tyler) changing uniforms and pads with Goldberg? Read more…

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Fireside Chats: Cinemablend’s Eric Eisenberg Part 2

May 21, 2010 Leave a comment

We pick up with Cinemablend’s Eric Eisenberg for a summer movie blowout. Part 1 is here.
Note: There are very minor spoilers for Iron Man 2 discussed, if you haven’t seen that yet feel free to skip down to the picture of Terrence Howard.


TFTB
: Before we jump into this summer’s slate of blockbusters, I want to spend a minute on Iron Man 2 and Robin Hood for anyone who hasn’t seen those yet. I’ll start with Robin Hood actually. Why would anyone decide that making a prequel that excludes all the good stuff is at all interesting? I’m truly at a loss.

Eric: The tragedy of it is that it appears to be an attempt at creativity that just got out of hand. The Robin Hood story has been told a thousand times and I understand Ridley Scott not wanting to tell it again, but it doesn’t work if you make it as slow as molasses.

TFTB: I was so much more interested when this story was Nottingham and they were focusing on the Sheriff’s perspective. It’s the same type of ego-driven star rewrites that plagued Terminator: Salvation. Still, I suppose they do deserve some points for scope of vision if not execution.

Eric: Agreed, particularly with Russell Crowe in both roles. It would be interesting to map a timeline of where that movie went wrong. I just hope it doesn’t discourage studios or other writers to be creative. There is just way too much “same” in movies these days. I still hold the Disney movie in high regard though.

TFTB: Speaking of, what is your opinion on Iron Man 2, and particularly the criticisms that it sacrificed story in favor of setting up its larger Avengers storyline.

Eric: It’s weird to say, but I feel as though I have a bias in favor of the Avengers stuff. Most people went to go see Iron Man 2 to see just that: more Iron Man, but I went in to watch it as a bridge to the bigger picture and I think most comic fans/regular Marvel movie-goers are doing the same thing. I can totally understand the criticism.

TFTB: I think that’s the biggest problem. If you’re selling it as Tony Stark: Bigger, Badder and Uncut, then that’s what people want to see. From a personal level, I was able to appreciate a lot of the subtler touches they put in expanding the film’s larger universe, but as a stand-alone film the product that was on screen did suffer from those issues, particularly in the first half.

Eric: What they are doing is unprecedented in film, and it needs to be done. I also don’t think that the series has done itself any favors by sticking the fun stuff at the end of the credits. There were plenty of people I talked to in the theater that still had no idea that Samuel L. Jackson was in the first movie, so when he showed up, I would bet that thousands of people went “huh?”. This includes people who own the film on DVD mind you, but there really is no remedy for that unless they start putting it in the promotional materials.

TFTB: It’s just interesting that these films have done so much towards making comic books accessible to a larger public, but at the same time, the divisions in some ways are stronger than ever.

Eric: Exactly. Marvel knows its key audience, but doesn’t seem to know the people it needs to reach out to. Iron Man 2 is a lot more enjoyable if you are willing to put the time in. There’s only so many times that I can explain what a Skrull is.

TFTB: So that explains why War Machine looked different in this one!

Eric: Skrulls?

TFTB: Got to be.

Eric: Congrats, you just lost a huge chunk of your audience.

TFTB: Well that seemed to be more of a problem for Kick-Ass.

Eric: I still don’t understand what happened with Kick-Ass, and I don’t think I ever will.

TFTB: Just looking at this summer, there seem to be a lot of hit or miss projects this year.

Eric: This may put you off, but I think I have to put Inception in that category. I love Christopher Nolan’s films to death, but is everyone going to get that movie?

TFTB: I can’t disagree because I still couldn’t tell you what that movie is about, and I’m not sure I’ll be able to after it’s over, but I have faith in Nolan that it will be a great film even if it doesn’t live up to expectations financially.

Eric: And that comes even after the trailer that supposedly told us what it is about. They just need to put the words “dark” and “knight” in each tv trailer about 70 times  then maybe he can get people hooked.

TFTB: You mean like The Karate Kid? They’re just short of dragging Ralph Macchio out to China and letting him get kicked in the face by Jaden Smith.

Eric: I just hate the idea of Jackie Chan getting old; and I want a Billy Zabka cameo.

TFTB: That’s a must, that and cheesy 80s montage music.

Eric: That’s actually a nice segue into my true feelings about the film. You know an 80s movie when you see it, and The Karate Kid is most certainly an 80s movie, and that is a huge part of its charm. I don’t get any charm out of the new movie.

TFTB: And what about The A-Team? Read more…