On Crooked Arrows’ website, the new movie about a ragtag lacrosse team made up of Native Americans is described as being “modeled upon the consistently successful underdog sports movie popularized by Mighty Ducks, Bad News Bears, Hoosiers, and Bend It Like Beckham.” You can take out the other three films; this is a blatant rip-off of The Mighty Ducks, one that does the original a disservice.
Part of the problem with Crooked Arrows is that its hackneyed, derivative plot is matched with a conceit that raises a number of troublesome questions about race. Crooked Arrows revolves around the idea of returning lacrosse to “our people,” that is, to the Native Americans that invented the sport. The implication here is that the sport itself has been co-opted by collar-popping, prep-schooling white boys, who have disgraced the sport along the way. Regardless of whether or not that characterization of the history of lacrosse is fair to the way it has grown in popularity in recent years, it sets up a scenario that smacks of cynical racial overtones. What happens if we switch Crooked Arrows’ premise? What if it was a feel-good movie about whiteMassachusetts residents taking back basketball, or one about blackMississippi men grabbing the blues back from Jack White? Would that be okay?
What happens in Crooked Arrows is that despite its best attempts to be a heartwarming story about a proud group of people, it ends up being a race-baiting knock-off that forces the audience to root against a team just because they’re white. That it is a poorly produced, directed, and acted movie to boot, only makes the whole thing more difficult to bear. So let’s, for the moment, set aside the race-baiting, us vs. them nature of Crooked Arrows, however egregious. Let’s instead discuss how Crooked Arrows is nearly a scene-by-scene recreation of The Mighty Ducks. Because, after all, that’s more fun.
Joe Logan (Brandon Routh) as Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez)
Loganis a casino manager, half-Native American, and an all-around smarmy clown. When presented with the opportunity to expand the casino,Logantakes the plan back to his tribe’s elders, who present him with a compromise: we’ll give up hundreds of acres of land, so long as you bring our lacrosse team back to glory. Sure, the reservation has millions to earn in (possible) casino money, but it still seems like a fairly short-sighted plan, staking your land to a lacrosse team.
Logan’s car of choice when he meets the team: yellow Audi
Bombayis an attorney, who gets pulled over for a DWI. As punishment, he’s forced into community service, coaching a rag-tag hockey team inMinneapolis. He does not care for this.
Bombay’s car of choice when he meets the team: black limo
Compare these quotes:
Logan: “Dad, you know why I don’t play anymore…”
Coach Reilly, to Bombay: “Why’d you turn against me, Gordon? For six years, I taughtcha how to skate, I taughtcha how to score, I taughtcha how to go for the “W”. You could have been one of the greats! And now look at yourself. You’re not even a has-been. You’re a never-was.”
Coaches’ license plates:
In Crooked Arrows, the squad is full of cocky players with no skill. In The Mighty Ducks, the team is full of tepid players with no skill. Both have equally shoddy uniforms.
Eventually, under the watchful eyes of their one-time jackass coaches, they learn to play together and make a “surprising” run through the playoffs. With nicer uniforms.
The ever-wise, overseeing old man who makes sticks
Crooked Arrows: Crooked Arrow
The Mighty Ducks: Hans
This one was pretty straight-forward: there are both old characters who make sticks.
The team name
In The Mighty Ducks, the team is named the Ducks afterBombay’s boss and the team’s benefactor, Mr. Quack QuackQuackDucksworth. That may or may not be his given, baptismal name; it’s been a while since I’ve seen the movie.
In Crooked Arrows,Logan names the team the Jackpots, after his casino. The team is eventually named the Crooked Arrows, but really, the damage was done.
Both teams get new players that energize them
In The Mighty Ducks, due to some realignment issues, the team lands star Adam Banks midway through the season. In Crooked Arrows, a giant Indian named Mog walks out of the woods and onto the team. If there were woods in downtown Minneapolis, I’m sure this effect would’ve been used in The Mighty Ducks.
The terrible, “Why is this kid even on the team, oh that’s right he has a hot mom” character
The Mighty Ducks: Charlie, whose mother blindsBombay, eventually leading him to say some inappropriate things in front of an ice castle.
Crooked Arrows: Toby, whose mother used to beLogan’s girlfriend in high school.
Both equally attractive, but in a “You know what, acting might not be for them” sort of way.
Quote from opposing coach that’s meant to spark his team, but actually just foreshadows its downfall
The Mighty Ducks: “I’m tellin’ you, you blow this game and nobody makes the team next year!”
Crooked Arrows: “Wake up and finish the job, or I’ll find someone who will.”
Other passing references that were stolen from The Mighty Ducks but I think I’ve already proven my point so I’ll just list them
– Logan visits the team while they’re in class, a laBombay’s detention room visit
– The “wow this team is getting good, let’s hit ‘em with some news clippings!” montage
– Coach eventually remembers his roots, either tries out for the minors (The Mighty Ducks) or builds a new lacrosse field (Crooked Arrows)