|D3: The Mighty Ducks|
Promotional film poster
|Directed by||Robert Lieberman|
|Written by||Steven Brill
|Music by||J.A.C. Redford|
|Distributed by||Walt Disney Pictures|
|Release date(s)||October 4, 1996|
|Running time||104 minutes|
|Preceded by||D2: The Mighty Ducks|
D3: The Mighty Ducks also known as The Mighty Ducks 3 is the third film in The Mighty Ducks trilogy, the second theatrical sequel to The Mighty Ducks, and the first to D2: The Mighty Ducks. It was produced by Avnet-Kerner Productions and Walt Disney Pictures, distributed by Buena Vista Distribution, and originally released to movie theaters 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.
While the previous two movies dealt with the Ducks' head coach Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez), D3 focuses on his protége, Charlie Conway (Joshua Jackson). Charlie and his teammates are awarded junior varsity hockey scholarships to the Eden Hall Academy, a prestigious Minnesota prep school that Bombay once attended. Charlie is reluctant to take the leadership of a new coach and asks Bombay to stay, but Gordon has instead accepted an offer to be in charge of player personnel for the Junior Goodwill Games. The Ducks' arrival is met with hostility from the varsity Warriors team, mainly consisting of players from rich families whose younger siblings were not accepted to the academy to make room for the Ducks.
The team also develops an icy relationship with Bombay's hand-picked successor, Ted Orion (Jeffrey Nordling), who does not share Bombay's lighthearted approach to coaching. Orion makes several changes to the team. He bans the team's pregame "quack" chant, refuses to award Charlie the team captaincy, and starts Julie Gaffney in goal, ahead of Greg Goldberg, based on her superior performance in tryouts. Orion also directs the team to play a defensive-minded system, a major change from their style of play under Bombay. In addition, star player Adam Banks is assigned to the varsity team. The team initially plays poorly as their offense-first mentality clashes with Orion's focus on defense. Charlie in particular refuses to accept the team's new direction. Other factors enhance Charlie's turmoil: he suffers growing pains typical of adolescence, feels residual anger at Bombay for leaving, and grows increasingly isolated from his teammates and family.
After both the Ducks and varsity team pull a series of pranks against each other, the varsity team challenges the Ducks to an exhibition game. Charlie eagerly accepts. However, the Ducks prove to be no match for the older players, and after a scuffle between both sides, Orion storms onto the ice and has the Ducks take off their jerseys, declaring "The Ducks are dead!" Charlie finally snaps at Orion, calling him "a washed-up pro," and leaves the team with Fulton Reed. Venting to the elderly and sickly Hans, his and Bombay's mentor and the founder of the Ducks, Charlie becomes further upset and walks off in a huff after Hans appears to take Orion's side. After skipping school and spending the day at the Mall of America, Charlie tells Fulton of his plan to attend a public high school, then attempt to join a junior hockey team in Canada. Fulton, however, says that he is unsure if he wants to play hockey for the rest of his life and understands he is jeopardizing his future by cutting classes. He rejoins the team, leaving Charlie alone. That night, Charlie's mother Casey informs him that Hans has died.
Bombay returns to join the Ducks at Hans' funeral. Charlie, feeling guilty over his tantrum with Hans earlier, spots Bombay and tries to leave the cemetery quietly. Gordon shows up at his house the following morning and takes Charlie back to Eden Hall, where he reveals Orion was once a player for the Minnesota North Stars, but stayed behind when the team moved to Dallas in order to take care of his paraplegic daughter. Bombay also says he told Orion of Charlie's superior play and leadership, hoping that both the coach and team captain would learn something from each other. Touched by the fact his former coach and mentor felt so highly of him, a tearful Charlie agrees to rejoin the team.
Much to Orion's surprise, Charlie shows up at the bus for the next game and tells Orion that he wants to play "two-way hockey". Impressed by Charlie's change in attitude, Orion welcomes him back. Unfortunately, the school board threatens to revoke the Ducks' scholarships by the end of the term; Orion is offered the chance to start anew with a team of his choice, but he refuses, saying he is satisfied with the team he has. It appears that the Ducks will be forced out until Bombay threatens a lawsuit against the school, which gets the team's scholarships reinstated.
While practicing for an upcoming game against the varsity squad, Charlie demonstrates his dedication to Orion's "two-way" philosophy, and Orion rewards Charlie by officially naming him team captain. Orion then further surprises the team by bringing back the Ducks jerseys and changing the team's name to JV Ducks. Adam returns to the team, as he missed playing with his Ducks teammates, and Dean Portman, Fulton's "bash brother" who did not come to Eden Hall with the rest of the Ducks, arrives at the last minute as well. The Ducks beat the varsity team in the game's final seconds with a shorthandd goal from Goldberg, who had switched positions from goalie to defenseman. Following the victory, Charlie embraces Orion and briefly spots Bombay. It is then seen that Bombay has put up a banner with the Ducks logo in Warrior's colors that says "Eden Hall Ducks". The crowd shows their support by cheering quacking. Bombay, satisfied that his former team and protégé is in good hands, leaves the arena alone while the Ducks celebrate their win.