The Mighty Ducks

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For the NHL team, see Anaheim Ducks. For the AHL team, see Cincinnati Mighty Ducks. For the animated series, see Mighty Ducks (TV series).
The Mighty Ducks
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Stephen Herek
Produced by Jon Avnet
Jordan Kerner
Written by Steven Brill
Starring Emilio Estevez
Joss Ackland
Lane Smith
Heidi Kling
Josef Sommer
Joshua Jackson
Elden Henson
Shaun Weiss
M. C. Gainey
Matt Doherty
Brandon Adams
J. D. Daniels
Aaron Schwartz
Garette Ratliff Henson
Marguerite Moreau
Jane Plank
Jussie Smollett
Vincent Larusso
Danny Tamberelli
Michael Ooms
Casey Garven
George Coe
Music by David Newman
Cinematography Thomas Del Ruth
Edited by Larry Brock
John F. Link
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release dates
  • October 2, 1992 (1992-10-02) (Premiere)
Running time
101 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $10 million
Box office $50.7 million

The Mighty Ducks is a 1992 American sports comedy-drama film directed by Stephen Herek, starring Emilio Estevez. It was produced by Avnet–Kerner Productions and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. It is the first film in the Mighty Ducks trilogy.

In the UK, South Africa and Australia, the film was retitled Champions. Subsequently, UK home releases are now titled The Mighty Ducks Are the Champions, reflecting both titles, as well as to possibly avoid confusion with the sequel (retitled as just The Mighty Ducks).


Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez) is a successful Minneapolis defense attorney of the Ducksworth, Saver & Gross firm, who never loses a case but whose truculent courtroom antics have earned him no respect among his peers. After successfully defending a client resulting in his 30th win, Bombay is called into his boss's office to be congratulated, but also chastised for embarrassing the judge. Regardless, he celebrates by going out drinking and is subsequently arrested for drunken driving. Bombay is sentenced to community service by coaching the local "District 5" PeeWee hockey team. Bombay has a history with the sport, although his memories are far from pleasant: Years ago, Bombay was the star player on the Hawks, but he missed a penalty shot in the championship game, costing his team the title for the first time and disappointing his hyper-competitive coach, Jack Reilly (Lane Smith).

When Bombay meets the team, he realizes the children have no practice facility, equipment or ability to go with it. The team's first game with Bombay at the helm is against the Hawks, the team from the snooty suburb of Edina. Reilly is still head coach and remains bitter about Gordon's shortcoming in the game years earlier (even lamenting that they should take the runner-up banner down from that season). District 5 gets pummeled and after Bombay berates the team for not listening to him the players challenge his authority. For the next game, Bombay tries to teach his team how to dive and get penalties. Meanwhile, Bombay discovers his old mentor and family friend Hans (Joss Ackland) who owns a nearby sporting goods store was in attendance. While visiting him, Bombay recalls that he quit playing hockey after losing his father four months before the championship game. Hans encourages him to rekindle his childhood passion.

Bombay approaches his boss, the firm's co-founder Gerald Ducksworth (Josef Sommer) to sponsor the team, something Ducksworth reluctantly agrees to do, after being offered his own jersey. The result is a complete makeover for the team, both in look (as they can now buy professional equipment) and in skill (as Bombay has more time to teach the kids hockey fundamentals). Now playing as the "Ducks" (named for Bombay's boss), they fight to a tie in the next game and recruit three new players: figure-skating siblings Tommy (Danny Tamberelli) and Tammy Duncan (Jane Plank) and slap shot specialist and enforcer Fulton Reed (Elden Henson). The potential of Ducks player Charlie Conway (Joshua Jackson) catches Bombay's eye and he takes him under his wing.

Bombay learns that due to redistricting the star player for the Hawks, Adam Banks (Vincent Larusso), should actually be playing for the Ducks. He then threatens Reilly into transferring Banks to the Ducks. After hearing an out of context quote about them, the Ducks players lose faith in Bombay and revert to their old habits.

Ducksworth makes a deal with Reilly about the Hawks keeping Banks. However, Bombay refuses since it would be against fair-play, which Ducksworth berated him about when he started his community service. Left with either the choice of letting his team down or get fired from his job, Bombay takes the latter.

Bombay manages to win back the Ducks' trust after they win a crucial match and Adam Banks proves to be a valuable asset. Because of his well-to-do background, Adam is given the nickname "Cake Eater" by his teammates. The name is, at first, seen as derisive, but then becomes a term of endearment. The Ducks manage to make it to the championship against the Hawks. Despite the Hawks' heavy attacks taking Banks out of the game, the Ducks manage to tie the game late and Charlie is tripped by a Hawks player as time expires. In exactly the same situation Bombay was at the beginning of the film, Charlie prepares for a penalty shot to win the championship. In stark contrast to former coach Reilly's attitude (Reilly told Bombay that if he missed, he was letting everyone down), Bombay tells Charlie that he will believe in him no matter what happens. Inspired, Charlie jukes out the goalie with a "Triple-deke" (taught to him by Bombay) to defeat the Hawks for the state Pee Wee Championship. The Ducks and family race out onto the ice in jubilation, where Bombay thanks Hans for his belief in him and Hans tells Bombay he is proud of him. Later, Bombay boards a bus headed to a minor-league tryout, secured for him by the NHL's Basil McRae of the Minnesota North Stars, who remembered Bombay's potential from their youth playing days together. Although he seems daunted at the prospect of going up against younger players, he receives the same words of encouragement and advice from the Ducks he had given them, promising he will return next season to defend their title.



The film grossed $50,752,337 domestically in the U.S, becoming a surprising success with audiences, which in turn inspired two sequels and an animated TV series (the latter taking on a science fiction angle with actual anthropomorphic ducks). While neither sequel's box-office total matched that of the first movie, they were still financially successful.

Critically, The Mighty Ducks was less well-received, currently holding a 15% 'rotten' rating on Rotten Tomatoes. By contrast, it has a 65% positive audience rating on the site.[1][2][3][4][5] Roger Ebert said the film was 'sweet and innocent, and that at a certain level it might appeal to younger kids. I doubt if its ambitions reach much beyond that', and gave it a 2 star rating.[6] Rita Kempley of The Washington Post described the film as 'Steven Brill, who has a small role in the film, constructed the screenplay much as one would put together some of those particleboard bookcases from Ikea.'[7]

The film has spawned a professional hockey team, the Anaheim Ducks, which play in the NHL.

The movie also coined the term "Cake Eater" for someone from a privileged background. The term was used by many people throughout the 1990s and early 2000s.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fox, David J. (October 13, 1992). "Weekend Box Office A Bang-Up Opening for `Under Siege'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 1, 2010. 
  2. ^ Maslin, Janet (October 2, 1992). "Review/Film; Hockey That Transcends Mere Winning". The New York Times. Retrieved October 9, 2010. 
  3. ^ "The Mighty Ducks". Washington Post. October 2, 1992. Retrieved October 9, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Review/Film; Hockey That Transcends Mere Winning". Chicago Sun Times. October 2, 1992. Retrieved October 9, 2010. 
  5. ^ "The Mighty Ducks". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 30, 2013. 
  6. ^ Roger Ebert (October 2, 1992). "The Mighty Ducks". Retrieved October 4, 2014. 
  7. ^ "‘The Mighty Ducks’ (PG)". The Washington Post. October 5, 1992.  C1 control character in |title= at position 1 (help)

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