There are many valuable lessons one can learn from kid's movies. This is especially true of sports movies. However, for all the lessons one can learn from Air Bud: World Pup, it's the Mighty Ducks series of movies that really taught us a lot of important life lessons, lessons that continue to help us into adulthood. Here are some valuable things you can learn from this trilogy of films about hockey playing children and their coach Gordon Bombay... and also that coach from the third movie. That guy's the worst. We'll get to him, though. First movies first, though...
This is not a pleasant lesson to learn, but it is true. The Hawks are from a ritzy area, and so they are great. It is implied they are so good in part because they have the financial resources necessary. District 5, on the other hand, has no money. They're a bunch of poor kids, and as such are the worst team in the league.
The ragtag team of underdogs doesn't pull themselves together until they become the Ducks -- and that's only because they get a sponsorship deal from Gordon's boss. The moral of the story: Hockey is a sport for the well-to-do, and a team without money behind them won't get far. Even this feel-good sports movie for kids can't elude this fact.
Coach Reilly had an awful lot of success in the apparently high stakes world of Minnesota PeeWee hockey. However, one year a young Gordon Bombay missed a penalty shot in a game the Hawks ended up losing. Reilly told young Gordon that he let the whole team down. He was a real a-hole. Many years later, Coach Bombay would get his revenge in leading the Ducks to a championship win over the Hawks. Reilly's cutthroat style showed results, but in the end, had he just been nice to Gordon Bombay that day, maybe Bombay would have never come back to take him down.
Greg Goldberg is the team's goalie. He is also afraid of getting hit by the puck. Why is he the goalie then? This is not answered. What we do know is that Goldberg is put into what is essentially immersion therapy. Coach Bombay straps him to the goal posts and has his team pepper him with pucks.
It's not the most ethically sound plan, but it works. Goldberg realizes he doesn't have to be afraid of the puck. Soon, he'll be skilled enough to lead the way for Team USA at the Goodwill Games. Even if your fear doesn't involve being hit with a hockey puck, this experience teaches children they too can face their fears/be subject to physical and psychological torture and turn out OK.
What really helped take the Ducks to the next level was when they poached Adam Banks, noted cake eater and best player in the league, from the Hawks. How did this happen? The lake is not the boundary anymore. Due to redistricting, Banks should be a Ducks, not a Hawk, and Bombay capitalizes on that. Sure, Hans is the one who pointed it out, but the point is that you need to pay attention to details and exploit them at every opportunity, even if it means taking kids away from his friends and angering his family.
The Ducks only got into the playoffs because the Panthers got the measles. This is a major bummer. A hockey team made up of children lost their season due to a measles outbreak. Gordon Bombay didn't care. He saw an opportunity, and he took it. When you think about it, it's really the measles that ended up winning the gold that year.
The Ducks' most iconic move, the Flying V, needs the person at the front of the V to carry the puck into the zone or the play will go offside. None of that matters, though. All that's really important is that the Ducks win, and that they look cool doing it.
Gordon Bombay is living the high life. Being the coach of Team USA at the Goodwill Games has him wheeling and dealing with some big names. He gets to meet Kareem Abdul-Jabbar! Alas, he also forgets where he comes from, and he forgets hockey is supposed to be fun. It wasn't until Gordon realized the error of his ways that the team is able to turn it around. It's an important lesson. Don't get cocky, and don't slick your hair back, because you will look like a dick.
The Iceland group is a nefarious bunch. Wolf "The Dentist" Stansson collected more teeth than goals in his hockey career, and he's never lost that edge. Coach Bombay let his guard down for a second, and Stansson takes him down with a vicious cheap shot. Meanwhile, the lady from Iceland's team seems to be some sort of double agent, using her feminine wiles to influence Coach Bombay before Iceland beats the USA 12-1. Sure, Gunner Stahl seems like an OK guy, but everybody else on Iceland seems pretty awful. It's a small country. That makes Team Iceland enough of a sample size to inherently distrust all Icelandic people.
Fighting is on the outs in hockey these days. Lots of people are happy about this. Don't tell that to Team USA, though. Fighting is a big part of their game, which is weird for a hockey tournament involving children. You'd think a fight would get you a game misconduct. Not at the Goodwill Games. They have the Bash Brothers, who are very popular. Fulton Reed is a legit player because of his massive slapshot, but Dean Portman is literally an enforcer.
And then there's Ken Wu, who was convinced that he had brighter future in hockey than figure skating. They put a stick in his hand, and nobody was able to touch him. Even so, he still had to learn to brawl with the best of them, and so he did -- you could even say he grew a taste for it -- much to the excitment of the crowd and his teammates. So there you have, it: Fighting in hockey is great and has no downsides. Just ask D2.
Greg Goldberg tells a ritzy Beverly Hills store he is related to Aaron Spelling. Greg Goldberg is clearly not related to Aaron Spelling. He still gets into the store with this ruse. The key is confidence. Or a bad screenplay. Probably confidence.
Susanna Wolf already noted this over on CollegeHumor, but it's worth repeating. As evidenced by D3, being a world-class sports teams doesn't mean anything when you get to high school. Even if you were one of the very few who were selected to represent your country in a global competition, and even if you trounced every other team and were officially awarded with the title The Best in the World -- there's always going to be a jerk who's like two years older than you and therefore better at hockey. Them's the breaks.
Gordon Bombay isn't a coach in this movie, because Emilio Estevez knows what's up, and took on a much smaller role in this film. He realized that, even though he starred in the greatest film of all-time, Repo Man, his legacy wasn't bulletproof. So we get this guy Ted Orion, who is a jerk and takes away Charlie's captaincy. He's basically the villain, but then Bombay shows up to tell Charlie that Orion retired from the NHL to take care of his paraplegic daughter. This is supposed to completely turn the character around in our eyes. He's still a jerk, just an unfortunate jerk -- and this somehow makes him a good guy.
This is not a lesson we learned in the movie, but from the movie itself.