This has got to be one of the oddest turn of events to roll out of Hollywood in years. "The Mighty Ducks", a 1992 surprise- hit Disney film about a bunch of misfit pee-wee hockey players, spawned an actual NHL team that goes by the same name and is owned by Disney. This team, in turn, lent its uniform colors and logo to the fictional Ducks team which returns in "D2: The Mighty Ducks". This is quite a shrewd tactic for Disney CEO Michael Eisner to launch; one that will win over a whole new generation of hockey fans for his fledgling team. But more than that, the sequel is actually a fine piece of family entertainment in its own right.
The new film starts where the old one left off with Ducks coach Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez) finally getting his chance to play on a professional team. His shot is cut short, though, by an injury which derails his dream of playing in the NHL. While licking his wounds at skate shop run by his longtime friend and mentor Jan (Jan Rubes), Gordon is offered the chance to coach Team USA at the Junior Goodwill Games in Los Angeles. While the original Ducks team (Joshua Jackson, Matt Doherty, Brandon Adams, Marguerite Moreau, Shaun Weiss, Vincent A. Larusso, Garette Ratliff Henson, Elden Ryan Ratliff) forms the core of Team USA, other players from around the country are added to the roster. These include a speedy player (Mike Vitar) from Miami who has trouble stopping, a Texas cowboy (Ty O'Neal), a female goalie (Colombe Jacobsen) from Maine, and an Olympic figure skater (Justin Wong).
Their fiercest competitor at the Games is the strong team from Iceland, led by a ruthless coach named Wolf (Carsten Norgaard). But with Gordon doing his best coaching, the home team no longer fosters the "lovable loser" image that made them such an underdog. The new group of players is well-respected and backed with enthusiasm by Tibbles (Michael Tucker), an official sponsor of Team USA. With the whole country rooting them and a final game to be played at The Pond in Anaheim (the NHL team's real home rink), the Mighty Ducks are set to conquer the world.
"D2: The Mighty Ducks" falls into the 'same, but different' category to which most sequels gravitate. It employs a time- honored, overused formula plot but the tone of the new film is different than that of the first. The original film was more about lighthearted comedy than hockey, stealing excitement from its showdown scenes. The second film corrects this problem. Although it sometimes gets a little heavy-handed and strained, such as in the subplot that finds the coach living it up while his players resent him, the film is much more interesting in the rink than its predecessor. But don't worry, the film has a fair amount of humor, too.