D3: The Mighty Ducks also known as The Mighty Ducks 3 is the third and final film in The Mighty Ducks trilogy and the second and final theatrical sequel to The Mighty Ducks, and first to D2: The Mighty Ducks. produced by Avnet-Kerner Productions and Buena Vista Distribution, distributed by Walt Disney Pictures, and originally released to movie theatres on October 4, 1996. While the film did not see the box office numbers that the first two movies saw, it was still considered a financial success due to its relatively low budget.
The film opens as the Ducks are being awarded junior varsity hockey scholarships to Eden Hall Academy, a prestigious prep school that coach Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez) attended, following their winning at the Junior Goodwill Games in Los Angeles, California. Bombay announces that he will be leaving his position as coach to take a job with the Junior Goodwill Games, much to Charlie's dismay. Bombay's spot is filled by former Minnesota North Stars player Ted Orion (Jeffrey Nordling). Initially the Ducks clash with Orion's disciplinary coaching tactics and his focus on defense over scoring. Orion abandons several Duck traditions and strips Charlie Conway (Joshua Jackson) of his Captain's 'C', stating that the tricks and tactics the team used in the Pee Wee league won't work at this level. He is proven right when, in their first game of the season, the Ducks take an embarrassing tie after losing a 9-goal lead, due to their cockiness after their initial dominance. Orion is livid, but makes a valid point (about hockey and life) when he states that the Ducks won't be able to dominate every game and have to learn how to play "two-way hockey," not choking when the game is going their way. Charlie's only consolation is meeting Linda (Margot Finley), a young student petitioning to change the school's team name (The Warriors) as it perpetuates an offensive Native American stereotype. Though she initially writes him off as a mindless jock, the two start to hit it off.
The team's difficulties are further compounded by the attitude towards the Ducks on the part of most of the students and parents at Eden Hall, particularly the Varsity hockey team, which Adam Banks has been recruited into. The two teams engage in an escalating prank war, culminating in an unofficial match in the school's ice rink, in which the Ducks are badly beaten. When Coach Orion forbids the old Ducks name and uniforms, declaring "The Ducks are dead!", Charlie decides to leave the team, and Fulton follows. Greg Goldberg is made a defenseman to replace Fulton. After a day spent skipping school at the Mall of America and Charlie proposing going to public schools before pursuing hockey careers, Fulton realizes he might not want to follow Charlie or play hockey for the rest of his life, and reverts to his old life before he was even a Duck. He also tries to suggest Charlie rejoin the Ducks. Chagrined at that suggestion and Fulton's abandonment, Charlie is still struggling with what to do when he learns that Hans, the Ducks' friend and mentor, has died.
Bombay returns for Hans' memorial and the next day takes Charlie back to Eden Hall. He explains to Charlie, that far from being the washed-up bully that Charlie imagines him to be, Orion was actually a great pro player, who only left the sport when the North Stars moved to Dallas because he wanted to care for his daughter, a paraplegic as a result of a car accident he was in. Bombay explains that he told Orion that Charlie was the heart and soul of the team, and it was his hope that both Orion and Charlie would learn something from each other and tells Charlie that he told Orion that he was "The Real Minnesota Miracle Man". Touched by his words, Charlie agrees to rejoin the team.
Arriving at the team bus for the next game, Charlie apologizes to Orion and states that he wants to learn to play two-way hockey. Coach Orion, surprised by Charlie's sincerity, welcomes him back. Fulton also rejoins the team before Charlie does. Prior to the bus' departure, Dean Buckley (David Selby), the school's headmaster, informs the team that its board of trustees is going to vote to revoke the Ducks' scholarships, due to the unpopularity of the decision to admit them, and their mediocre performance on the ice. The Dean offers Orion a chance to start anew with a team of his choice, but Orion refuses, going so far as to threaten resignation, and assures his team that he's going to fight the decision.
At the Board of Trustees meeting, the Ducks state their case, but no one is willing to listen until Bombay arrives and threatens the group with an injunction, promising to tie up the matter in court until long after the kids have gone on to college. Wishing to avoid a legal situation, as Bombay made it clear if the Ducks are expelled from Eden Hall, he will file a lawsuit against them and make certain they suffer a huge financial loss when he wins, the board reluctantly votes to reinstate the Ducks' scholarships. When the Varsity team learns the Ducks are staying and continue their harassment, the Ducks and the Warriors agree that if Varsity beats JV in the upcoming exhibition game, JV will leave the school, but if JV wins, the official team name at Eden Hall will be changed to the Eden Hall Mighty Ducks. Orion and the Ducks train hard, focusing specifically on defense around the goal. Orion returns the Ducks' jerseys right before the game, feeling that the team has finally earned them.
Throughout the game, the Varsity dominates on offense, but the Ducks' newly acquired defensive skills manage to keep the game scoreless after two periods. Unable to score, the Varsity instead start to viciously check every player they can, so that the Ducks are battered going into the third period. During the second intermission, enforcer Dean Portman (Aaron Lohr), who had initially refused the school's scholarship, returns to the team, adding a needed spark. Late in the game, the Ducks get two penalties and must play 5 vs 3. During the time-out, Orion renames Charlie captain and tells him to go for the win if the opportunity presents itself. With seconds left in the game, Charlie is on a breakaway, but in a surprise move passes the puck back to Goldberg, who scores into a wide-open net as time expires, securing a 1-0 victory for the Ducks.
Following the victory, Charlie embraces Orion and spots Bombay who has attended the game. They both look across to the Warriors emblem, which is suddenly replaced by an unrolling banner with the Ducks' logo and changing into Eden Hall Mighty Ducks since JV won the bet. The Varsity Warriors exit the ice humiliated and defeated by the Ducks. Upon seeing this, Linda kisses Charlie. Bombay then departs the rink, amid a sea of cheering fans, with a smile, knowing his protege has matured.
- Emilio Estevez as Gordon Bombay
- Joshua Jackson as Charlie Conway #96
- Jeffrey Nordling as Coach Ted Orion
- David Selby as Dean Buckley
- Heidi Kling as Casey Conway
- Margot Finley as Linda
- Joss Ackland as Hans
- Elden Henson as Fulton Reed #44
- Shaun Weiss as Greg "Goldie" Goldberg #33
- Vincent Larusso as Adam Banks #99
- Matt Doherty as Lester Averman #4
- Garette Ratliff Henson as Guy Germaine #00
- Marguerite Moreau as Connie Moreau #18
- Michael Cudlitz as Cole
- Christopher Orr as Rick Riley
- Aaron Lohr as Dean Portman #21
- Colombe Jacobsen as Julie Gaffney #6
- Kenan Thompson as Russ Tyler #56
- Mike Vitar as Luis Mendoza #22
- Ty O'Neal as Dwayne Robertson #7
- Justin Wong as Ken Wu #16
- Scott Whyte as Scott "Scooter" Holland
- Jack White as Coach Wilson
Paul Kariya, at the time was captain of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (now Anaheim Ducks), makes a cameo appearance during the second intermission of the Ducks/Varsity Warriors game.
Brandon Adams, who played Jesse Hall, is the only actor to not reprise his role, after appearing in the first two films of the trilogy.
Like its predecessor, the film received negative reviews, and holds a 20% 'rotten' rating based on 15 reviews with an average rating of 3.8/10 on review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes. John Anderson of the Los Angeles Times called the film "a self-reverential salute to Ducks" while also saying that the film was "lazier" than its predecessors. Steve Hedgpeth of the Newark Star Ledger wrote, 'Somebody put this stupid Disney franchise in Deep-Freeze'.
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