'D3' is a lame duck


M R Ducks?

Nah. M ain't Ducks. M R platitudes.

That's the gist of "D3: The Mighty Ducks," which reanimates the peewee hockey kids, this time with a gooey helping of moral instruction about the dangers of vanity and the joys of subsuming the self in team ethos. Are you listening, Mighty O's?

The usual suspects are back, not that you can tell, but the eminence grise of the series, Emilio Estevez, really only appears in cameo, as an adviser brought in late in the picture for pep talks and legal maneuvers.

Instead, the new adult at the center is Jeffrey Nordling, playing the coach who inherits the kids when they are recruited, en masse, to a snippy prep school. Once there, they will serve as the freshman squad to the horror of the snooty varsity. Needless to say, the portrait of prep school life couldn't be described as even-handed.

Nordling turns out to be a tough-love kind of guy, who insists that the ill-disciplined, offense-minded hot shots submit to play mighty D. Team captain and hero Charley (Joshua Jackson) is particularly offended by this suggestion and much of the story concerns his decision to sulk in his tent like the mightiest duck of yore, Achilles.

Meanwhile, tensions are rising between the Ducks and the varsity "Warriors," who appear to represent upper-class rigidity and systems mastery. It doesn't take a genius, or even a mere film critic, to guess that this one is headed toward a big game, that Charley will cease to model himself after Achilles and get with the program, and it'll all come out in the end.

There's nothing particularly distinctive about the way director Robert Lieberman handles the hockey action, but at least it's clear and reasonably exciting. But I'll take an O's win over a Ducks' win any time.

"D3: The Mighty Ducks"

Starring Emilio Estevez and Jeffrey Nordling

Directed by Robert Lieberman

Released by Walt Disney

Rated PG

Sun score **

Pub Date: 10/04/96

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