Spoiler alert! The following contains details from the April 30 episode of “The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers.”
Ducks still fly together. Nearly 25 years after the third and final installment of “The Mighty Ducks” film trilogy was released, some of the original quackers reunite in this week’s episode of the Disney+ reboot, “The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers” (now streaming).
And it’s as beautiful as the Flying V.
Reformed Hawk Adam Banks (Vincent LaRusso), Miss “I’m no lady; I’m a Duck” Connie (Marguerite Moreau), her main man Guy (Garette Henson), the wise-cracking Averman (Matt Doherty), the former figure-skater Kenny Wu (Justin Wong) and one-half of the “Bash Brothers” Fulton (Elden Henson) – who enters the series smashing Gordon Bombay’s (Emilio Estevez) window, just like in the first film – reunite for the sixth episode of the 10-part season, “Spirit of the Ducks.” (Episodes are released weekly.)
The former teammates gather for a 25th anniversary Ducks gala, which their old coach Bombay was excluded from because the powers that be believe “he just doesn’t represent the best of the Ducks.”
Fans of “Game Changers” know that the Ducks have gone from playing with heart to becoming winning-obsessed. And Bombay is a shell of his former self: disillusioned with hockey after being made to resign from his college coaching job for giving money to a poor recruit. His rink, the Ice Palace, is now home to the Don’t Bothers, a team started by single mom Alex Morrow (Lauren Graham), after the Ducks cut her son over his hockey skills.
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Coach Bombay's Ducks fly home for an episode of "The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers." From left, Justin Wong, Garette Henson, Marguerite Moreau, Emilio Estevez, Vincent LaRusso, Elden Henson and Matt Doherty. (Photo: Disney/Liane Hentscher)
Neither Joshua Jackson, who played team captain Charlie Conway, or Kenan Thompson, the “knuckle puck” master Russ, appear. Estevez says filming, paired with Canada’s quarantine, required a monthlong commitment for the stars.
“While it would’ve been great to have everybody, it was just impossible to coordinate everybody’s schedules and bring Kenan and Josh,” he says.
Episode 6 reveals that Coach Bombay has fallen out of touch with his formerplayers, and even skipped Connie and Guy’s wedding. In the episode, Fulton says the distance Coach created is the reason Charlie didn’t show. “He didn’t come because he said, ‘It’s not like you’ve been showing up for us lately, so why should he show up?'”
Estevez says “the door is always open for any of the original Ducks,” including goalie Goldberg (Shaun Weiss), should the series continue for a second season. Weiss has a history of run-ins with the law and drug usage, but celebrated a year of sobriety in January, according to a friend’s Instagram post. Weiss appears healthier than at the time of his 2020 arrest.
“Collectively, we are always keeping Shaun in our good graces and in our prayers,” says Estevez.” “The life of a young, adolescent actor is not an easy one and especially the transition from being a child actor to an adult actor is oftentimes untenable… The last pictures that I saw of him he looks fabulous, and I’m pulling for him.”
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This time it's the players bringing a limo onto the ice for Coach Bombay. (Photo: Disney/Liane Hentscher)
Moreau describes the reunion as “heaven.” A sense of gratitude washed over Elden Henson. “I’m forever grateful to these movies, forever indebted to them,” he says. “They changed my life.”
Their enthusiasm served them well onscreen, says LaRusso, remembering the first scene where Bombay reunites with his former players at a pizza parlor.
“I think one of my favorite memories from that scene was the fact that when Emilio came back in, and we all got excited to see him, there was very little acting going on there,” he says. “It was all very easy to get excited, and we could do it three or four times and every time (we were) more excited than the last.”
Viewers can feel the authenticity of their warmth in the scene.
“Oh, it’s real,” Averman says upon laying eyes on his old coach. When Bombay embraces Ken Wu it feels like it’s the first time in years. “Man, you got big!” Bombay marvels.
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Fulton (Elden Henson), Connie (Marguerite Moreau), Ken (Justin Wong), Guy (Garette Henson) and Averman (Matt Doherty) take to the ice in Ducks jerseys. (Photo: Disney/Liane Hentscher)
Garette Henson says he and LaRusso would huddle and relive each shooting day.
“We’d get back to the hotel, and Vinny and I were one floor away from each other and we would just sort of recap and be like, ‘This is just incredible,'” he says. “With COVID and being in lockdown, it was such a treat to get to step away from all that fear and return to childhood joy.”
Part of that happiness included pranks. Wong remembers silly notes attached to the backs of shirts with clothespins. Garette Henson has a picture preserving Estevez’s playfulness.
“There’s this really funny Polaroid that I have of me in the locker room asleep, with Emilio standing over me laughing,” he says. “He’s about to put shaving cream on my face, and I feel like that Polaroid really encapsulates the entire experience of just really being kids and having a good time.”
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