In 2021 all streaming services are in the business of nostalgia to some extent. The most blatant in this regard is Disney Plus. The mouse is fairly shameless as to what properties they will bring back for the sake of nostalgia dollars. The majority of Disney’s original streaming content beyond big marquee titles simply isn’t very good. For every pro-shot of Hamilton or season of The Mandalorian, there are three equivalents to the likes of Godmothered, Secret Society of Second Born Royals or Artemis Fowl. This is the stuff the worlds Biggest media empire doesn’t want the general public. On paper, there’s no better exemplification of these two facts than the currently releasing the first season of the services Mighty Ducks reboot Game Changers
The Mighty Ducks was a trilogy of Disney live-action kids hockey films released between 1992 and 1996. The very formulaic setup is as basic as it gets. As part of serving his community service a disgraced lawyer, (Emilio Estevez has to go in train a misfit Children’s hockey team. Disney is counting on viewers to have a certain level of emotional attachment when marketing the new streaming iteration. This critic watched the first film on service having no attachment to it whatsoever. Despite a couple of amusing moments, it’s nothing more than an artefact of mid 90s culture. The narrative has shockingly little heart when executing its formula. Given the constraints of a feature runtime, the characters feel barely developed. Only Joshua Jackson’s team leader gets any kind of screentime. Thus when events ask the audience to emotionally invest in what’s going on on-screen it’s difficult to borderline impossible. The film doesn’t give viewers anything to latch onto. Whilst watching this critic was thinking about his fondness for the mostly forgotten 2005 Disney live-action effort Sky High. He will unironically admit to being on board for any kind of sequel/continuation/reboot of this property The question is if you showed a contemporary kid the latter film would they be more likely to latch onto it compared with something like Mighty Ducks. This adult would argue yes. Both films are decidedly formulated time capsules. However, Sky High establishes mythology and character in a way that would likely still engage kids of any generation. Unfortunately with the passing of adult co leed Kelly Preston (RIP), Any Sky-high continuation is relatively unlikely at this point. Based on the first Mighty Ducks film this viewer did not bother with the sequels. That said out of morbid curiosity the week after it released he put on the opening episode of game changes. Was it as bad as feared?
After watching the opening episodes as part of his weekend fearing this sceptics main question was how on earth this turned out… rather good. Game Changers is not a great show by any stretch. Based on the opening three episodes it still showcases a decided formula for its sub-genre. The setup is incredibly straightforward. In contemporary Minnesota, Alex (Lauren Graham) son (Brandy Noon) gets kicked off the modern incarnation of The Mighty Ducks. They decide to go and start a rival team. Through a series of events they end up training at a dilapidated ice rink run by a down on his luck Gordon Bombay (a returning Estevez.)
Through some solid family-oriented choices the first three episodes can reverse most of the problems baked into the source material. The new incarnation feels entirely sincere in the reproduction of its formula. Beyond some jokes about podcasting and video games feels much more timeless than the painfully of its time original. This critic will admit to not being overly familiar with Lauren Graham’s work. She delivers an immensely likeable turn in the lead adult role. The Biggest surprise of all might be the child performances. It’s notoriously difficult to find solid child actors. Especially when Disney are well known for putting their stars through the meat grinder, in such a way that they come out the other end as drug-addicted shamble’s. The kid ensemble here delivers solid one-liners and slapstick effectively. Every plot turn may be painfully obvious but for this stripe of kids entertainment that doesn’t necessarily matter. Earnest delivery and strong ensemble work can get a creative team a long way. The new iteration of Mighty Ducks is a strong case example of exactly that.
The Mighty Ducks: Game Changes is not a great show by any means. That said based on the first three episodes it’s much better than it has any right to be. It’s the media equivalent of giving a bad nostalgia-driven property a serious glow-up. The new version could potentially appeal regardless of individual attachment to the source material. If both young and old viewers have a soft spot for this variety of sports underdog Storey the new series is worth checking out. Much more so than the original film.
The Mighty Ducks (1993) 4/10.
Game Changers Episodes 1-3 (2021) 7/10.