I’ve screened the first episode of the new “Mighty Ducks” reboot series “The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers”. It premieres this Friday March 26th on Disney+. The episode is predictable and corny and formulaic and standard family sports series content. But there are three positives that shouldn’t be ignored:
Steven Brill, the writer of the original 1992 Disney film, returns for this revival and puts a nice spin on the traditional underdog story. The Mighty Ducks are now the ENEMY. 12-year-old Evan (Brady Noon) gets cut from the Ducks, so he and his mom (played by Lauren Graham) decide to start-up their own, rival hockey team with a bunch of Evan’s quirky school pals. Going against the legendary Ducks is a slightly different, welcome approach.
The 14-year-old (who’s had roles in “Love the Coopers” and “The Book of Henry”) plays Nick, the sidekick best friend to Evan with the wisecracking one-liners. But unlike most of these characters, he’s not completely annoying or cringeworthy (which is refreshing). Simkins’ comedic timing is very on-point, reminiscent of how I felt watching Josh Gad for the first time on “Back to You”. Just as Gad broke through on that cult-classic FOX sitcom, look for Simkins to get more big-time roles because of “Ducks”.
He’s the biggest positive of all. Those who grew-up with the original “Mighty Ducks” will at least want to watch the first episode to see Estevez reprise his iconic role as Gordon Bombay, who’s now the owner of an ice rink. He brings attitude, sarcasm, grit and reality into a series that (otherwise) feels like it’s trapped in Fantasyland. Estevez’s rapport with Graham works, and he may be the sole reason why anyone over the age of 20 will want to stick with this for the entire season.