Let’s just put aside the fact that perennial hockey powers Canada and Russia get eliminated in the early rounds of the international competition that forms the centerpiece of “D2: The Mighty Ducks.” Or that a team from Iceland — never a noted threat in the sport — is cast as the heavies in the competition for the cup so dearly cherished by Team U.S.A. under the leadership of coach Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez). Even disregarding its credibility problems, “D2” is a pretty sorry follow-up to a picture that spawned a National Hockey League franchise and enchanted the box office to the tune of $ 50 million.
While there are plenty of ideas and ideals floating through this youthful action comedy, it’s sorely lacking in anything vaguely resembling a script. The ragtag pucksters get a patchwork palette that results in a tired pastiche of sports cliches. Commercial prospects are fast, down and dirty, and likely to put a real crimp in the bigscreen franchise.
In the new outing, with his ongoing attempt to play in the pros again stymied by injury, Gordo is tipped as the ideal hockeymeister for the upcoming Junior Goodwill Games (winter edition). All he has to do is round up his old Ducks and add some new kids.
But Team U.S.A. isn’t really a squad, it’s a collection of minorities and social causes. There’s the Hispanic player who skates like lightning but hasn’t learned how to stop. And there’s the female goalie who’s actually better than the regular Jewish kid, but for some unknown reason he’s been granted seniority. By the final faceoff, these and other problems will be resolved.
In truth, it’s a wonder these rink rats can outscore the Trinidad team, let alone make the playoffs. Add to the mix Gordon’s brief seduction into the world of product endorsement and those Icelandic dirty tricksters, and the lunacy is complete.
Director Sam Weisman’s best shots are on the ice, building the excitement of competition to a fever pitch. However, that momentum is DOA every time he has to cut to narrative, complete a plot point, include a product placement shot or a nod to the NHL Ducks’ Anaheim arena.
Confronted with such overwhelming entertainment obstacles, it’s no wonder that the adult players appear so ill at ease. Estevez, who had so much charm and energy in the first, acts as if there was a dark cloud trailing his path. The rest of the cast merely struggles to maintain some shred of dignity.
Strictly matinee fare for the preteen set, “D2: The Mighty Ducks” are fast proving they’re simply not quacked up to be in a commercial league of their own.