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‘Game Changers’ gives us same old ‘Mighty Ducks’ situation with a modern twist

Arts & Entertainment

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“The Mighty Ducks” has come to be a staple of a healthy 90s family film diet. Along with movies like “The Sandlot,” “Ducks” told a story about the importance of oddballs sticking together and working together to accomplish great things.

Apparently, Disney has decided they need to tell that same story again because the new series “The Mighty Ducks: Games Changers” seems to be setting up the exact same situation as we saw back in 1992.

“Game Changers” opens in the present day, where the Ducks are still around but they’ve become the same kind of soulless, corporate-sponsored machine of a team that the Ducks battled against back in the day. It’s kind of the Disney version of a “you’ve become what you swore to destroy” situation.

Anyway, when Evan (Brady Noon) gets cut from the Ducks for not being good enough, his mom, Alex (Lauren Graham) decides that any kid who wants to play should be able to play, even if they stink. Together, Evan and Alex start putting together a rag-tag bunch of hockey misfits and cross paths with legendary Ducks coach Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez).

The set-up is really similar to the old movie, with contemporary flourishes that bring the story up to date. For example, Nick (Maxwell Simkins) hosts a podcast covering the Ducks before being recruited by Alex and Evan. A viral video of Alex plays an important role. Kids are still kids in “Game Changers” but they have access to devices they didn’t have in the original movie.

Other than that, a lot of what goes on in “Game Changers” is really similar to the old movie. Gordon is once again reluctant to coach the kids or be involved with hockey. Our heroes are much smaller and less skilled than the teams they’ll be facing. Everyone is already counting Evan and his buddies out.

With so much the same, it seems reasonable that this show is headed toward the same conclusion as the movie, only stretched out for ten episodes. That might make it somewhat predictable. But the destination isn’t the point of a show like this. It’s the journey to the conclusion that counts.

And so far, there’s some fun to be had with this show.

The young cast of “Game Changers” is all pretty solid. I especially like nerd princess Lauren (Bella Higginbotham) and Logan (Kiefer O’Reilly), the new kid in town with the $900 skates. But Simkins steals the show as Nick. His delivery is so perfect that you can’t help but laugh and that makes Nick a character that’s really easy to like.

The adults have some nice moments. Graham carries the first episode as a harried and hurried mom who loves her kid and lets her goofy side out at the wrong times. Estevez’s Bombay gets the perfect reveal to reintroduce him and his snarky commentary works well off of Graham’s good-hearted determination.

The writing isn’t spectacular but it gets the job done and the characters are clearly-rendered. Visually, “Game Changers” doesn’t make your eyeballs dance, but occasionally, it gives some magic imagery to look at. The pacing works well enough to keep both younger and older viewers engaged. This really is a show the whole family can get something out of.

“The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers” hardly changes the game but it’s solid, family-friendly entertainment with characters you want to spend time with and a mystery (why does Gordon Bombay hate hockey again) you’re itching to see solved. So pop some popcorn and gather your whole flock to watch because ducks fly together!

”The Mighty Ducks” is currently available to stream on Disney+ with new episodes dropping every Friday for the next ten weeks.

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