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Mystery, Alaska
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Product Description

With Russell Crowe (THE INSIDER, A BEAUTIFUL MIND), Hank Azaria (GODZILLA, THE BIRD CAGE), and Burt Reynolds leading an incredible all-star cast, here's a fun, uplifting, action-packed story that everyone will love! A remote hockey-obsessed town populated by 633 of the most eccentric characters you'd ever want to meet, Mystery is the kind of place where nothing ever changes. But then life as they know it gets turned completely upside down! When a publicity stunt brings the world-famous New York Rangers -- and the national spotlight -- to Mystery for a game with the local team of weekend warriors, the whole town rises to meet the challenge of a lifetime! Also starring Mary McCormack (TRUE CRIME, DEEP IMPACT) and Lolita Davidovich (PLAY IT TO THE BONE, JUNGLE 2 JUNGLE) in another critical favorite from the hit-making director of AUSTIN POWERS 1&2 -- you'll stand and cheer as this ragtag bunch shows that nothing can melt their dreams of a miracle on ice!

When it comes to the subject of community, David?E. Kelley--the prolific writer-producer behind television's The Practice and Ally McBeal--falls somewhere on a continuum between directors Howard Hawks and Robert Benton. While Hawks's professional characters are bound by a knowledge of how to do what they do even if they don't know why, Benton's people, professional or not, have long ago substituted their own eccentric reasons for that elusive why. Thus we get the kind of in-house, oddball rituals sandwiched between passages of actual work on Ally, and the affectionately entangled personal and professional ties between small-town folks in Kelley's earlier TV series Picket Fences.

Kelley's script for Mystery, Alaska (co-authored by Sean O'Byrne) takes that level of eccentricity to a geographical and spiritual extreme. The film revives the hackneyed Rocky formula, setting a lopsided hockey match within a remote, self-contained hamlet where the members of a tiny population all have to wear multiple hats and still keep neighborly ties intact. The story concerns the town's chief source of identity and pride: so-called "Saturday games," in which local men divide into teams and play pond hockey for the locals. When a prodigal son (Hank Azaria) of Mystery shows up with a television network offer to bring the New York Rangers in for a televised match against the homegrown team, the town fathers agree. Coaching falls to the town sheriff, John Biebe (Russell Crowe), an admirable man and a longtime player recently bumped from the team. John, however, doesn't want the job: everyone knows the real coach in those parts is Judge Burns (Burt Reynolds), but he wants no part of it either. All of that changes after a sad tragedy forces everyone to reevaluate their positions and pull together in order to beat the Rangers.

Following the success of Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Jay Roach proves to be an able director of drama, swift action, and low-key, character-driven comedy not unlike that in Benton's Nobody's Fool. He has to deal with some pure corn at the end, but Roach pulls it off and guides the actors to and through far better moments. --Tom Keogh

Features:
  • Officially Licensed
  • Highest Quality Recording

Customer Reviews:

  • Russ Crowe Can't Save This One
    The community values of the town of Mystery seem to include: profanity, adultery, profanity, name calling, profanity, ostracizing people who have left town, profanity, and hockey. The hockey part was fun.

    I'm sorry, but I can't provide a complete review. I had to turn the movie off when my teenage kids came home.

    Why didn't I turn it on again later? Well, the story line wasn't believable. (Apparently the whole town turns out every Saturday to watch the same people play hockey for 13 years straight.) And, I had been expecting a comedy, but nothing seemed to be funny. BUT the real reason I didn't turn it back on - after 1/2 hour of watching, I didn't care enough about any of the characters to be interested in who wins the big game.

    I guess some people in Hollywood think we'll watch anything as long as it has a big name (Russell Crowe) or two (Burt Reynolds) to attract attention....more info
  • :::yawn :::
    This is the most boring moralistic [crud] to come out in a very long time...more info
  • Awesome movie!!!!
    I am a hockey nut, and this movie just made me love it that much more! One of the best movies that I have ever seen in my life!...more info
  • Movie with a lot of heart...
    The ending could have used a little more oomph and emotion, but overall the movie was really really good. Good: The scenes in the locker room, the Biebe kids' comments, Burt Reynolds "judge" character and coaching, Bailey's law, the heart of the town and heart of the players. Hank Azaria's final realization about Mystery, Crowe's deftly played performance as the approximately 30 yr. old Captain.

    There was nothing really bad, it was just that after all the emotion and laughter churned up during the entire movie, it just sort of ends nicely, not bad, but not a terrific ending either. Just sort of lackluster ending.

    The husband/wife interraction between McCormack and Crowe was especially realistic. Crowe has not had such great chemistry with anyone since Meg Ryan in PROOF OF LIFE. Mary McCormack would have been the perfect wife in his upcoming "CINDERELLA MAN" film! ...more info
  • exeptional shots
    I am a hockey player from holland and i play in one of the top competition leages. This movie is not only great by it's humor or acting quallity. It has the most exeptional hockey shots shown in any hockey movie. Even pro's can watch this video and learn from it. If you like comedy, action and a great game of hockey you must buy this dvd....more info
  • Very entertaining!
    I really did like this quirky movie. It was very entertaining and you really care about the character Crowe portrays...although his long hair needed a major cut job. It was interesting to see him play the role of loving husband and father. He does quite well and convincingly too. The big hockey game in the end is very edge of your seat. I liked it alot and am glad to add it to my collection of Crowe films. He is such a versatile actor. I always enjoy watching him. The movie takes on a "Northern Exposure" feel but the characters aren't quite as strange...more down to earth. It is very enjoyable....more info
  • For Sale
    I have seen the movie and it does hockey justice. But thats not why I'm writing this. I hope someone who has connections could pass on the idea of selling the Mystery Alaska jersey. It rocks. I would buy one and I know a few others who would too. So if someone can pass on the idea or knows where I can buy one, please contact me....more info
  • surprising
    I wasn't going to purchase this film because as others stated it included Burt Reynolds and Russell Crowe and it was about hockey, but I happened to catch it on one of the movie channels and found that I actually enjoyed it. It's listed as a drama/comedy but there is more drama than comedy. Perhaps if there had been more comedy I would give it the full 5 stars but as I stated Mr's Reynolds and Crowe and hockey aren't my cup of tea. Still it had a lot going for it and is worth seeing....more info
  • Brilliant comedy, with some hockey.
    I love this movie because of the hilarious insults slung back and forth between the cast members as well as the realistic and entertaining hockey games. Its great that everyone in the small town of Mystery has the same lingo, and the gossip travels so quickly.
    If you like hockey, you'll instantly love this movie, and if you hate hockey, then God hates you....more info
  • Great idea for a screen play, but...
    The story, most of the acting and the scenery were all very good! However, the totally horrendous skating ability of one Russell Crowe was in such glaringly sharp contract to the rest of the picture that it ruined the movie! This is not a matter of opinion folks, Mr. Crowe CANNOT ice skate and if you cannot ice skate, then you cannot play hockey and you really should not play the so-called leader and captain of a hockey team that the movie is based upon. For example, it's one thing to overlook some far-fetched scenes in a sci-fi flick for the purpose of provoking thought or lending to the overall theme of the movie. But this you cannot overlook...the star hockey player that cannot ice skate in a movie about a hockey team with him as the main character? No freakn' way!

    Sorry Russell, you make one hell of a Gladiator in which you were awesome in...but a hockey player? Please leave the hockey playing to actors that have played hockey or at least can ice skate very well thank you very much!

    ...more info
  • Alaskins VS. ALL Star Hockey Team.
    I like this movie it should be PG-13 and I dought My favorite Goalie Mike Ricther wouldn't allow 4 goals on a team that spent 0 time in the minors. ... I like the Mystaers jerseys and the goalies do pretty good considering it's Hollywood hockey. But, let's face it in real life The Rangers would win 11-0....more info
  • Amazing Cast-Pleasant Movie
    A very pleasant surprise, Midnight, Alaska, brings to the screen the story of small hockey town in Alaska as it prepares for an exhibition game against the NY Rangers.
    What the townsfolk do not realize is that their lives are about to change and not necessarily because of the sudden media attention...
    I have to admit that I did not know what to expect from the film, but as it turns out it was a very pleasant and entertaining movie!
    It is a film about human relations, hope and second chances, but most importantly about trust, love, and inner strength.
    Russel Crowe, Hank Azaria, Colm Meaney, Burt Reynolds and the rest of this AMAZING cast, have truly outdone themselves with their performances, which are outstanding to say the least. All the actors, without exceptions, give it their 100% and it really shows (the chemistry is something else)! Very well written and very well presented, the movie is without a doubt guaranteed to provide more than just a few laughs, not to mention a few tears. The film is simple enough, but does a great job of describing people's every day lives and the problems they face. It just goes to show that simplicity is often far better than complexity, when trying to present issues of a human nature.
    In short, Midnight, Alaska is a movie definitely worth watching, as it will surely provide for an evening's entertainment!
    ...more info
  • A Nice Change of Pace for Crowe!!
    I just saw this movie and I liked it...ALOT!! I am a new fan of Russell Crowe and I'm catching up on his movies. This movie surprised me...especially the ending!!! This film is listed under "comedy" at my video store, but it seemed to be more of a drama, but there were some humorous moments.

    This is a simple, heartwarming movie. The people in this town has so much pride...they value their weekly, all important "Saturday" games.

    I really liked Russell Crowe in this. It's such a nice change of pace for him. I would like to see him in more movies like this, and I LOVED his hair and he smiled alot, which is such a beautiful smile.

    IF you like good, heartwarming, feel good movies, then I would recommend this one!!...more info

  • It's a mystery why anyone would buy it.
    Another low budget Canadian stinker of a movie. Bad hockey, bad acting, bad story idea....more info
  • Mystery is no mystery
    Mystery Alaska is a saturday afternoon, popcorn movie the whole family can enjoy. It had the same feel as when I used to watch Northern Exposure.Alot of quirky,funny people who's lives revolve around the simple things in life.This one being hockey.Good solid cast. Russell is easy on the eyes too!...more info
  • For Love of the Game
    This movie should have been named "For Love of the Game", because it's about a town's love for the game of hockey and the "Saturday Game."
    It takes place in a small town called Mystery, Alaska, which is surrounded by piles of snow and mountains. It's a "Hockey Town" who's entire focus is around skating and hockey. There is a hockey game played every Saturday by the ten best hockey players in town. The players are chosen by a committee which presides over the game.
    The story centers around John Biebe (Russell Crowe), who gives an awarding performance as an aging hockey player who just happens to be the town's sheriff.
    The conflict starts when John is described in an article featured in Sports Illustrated, as a great passer, being slow of foot and the only player without lightening speed. The article is written by the town's outcast Charlie Danner (Hank Azaria) who also happens to be his wife Donna's old boyfriend. He is suddenly dropped from the Saturday game and replaced with a young kid.
    Due to the article, Charlie flies in to town baring the news that there is interest from the New York Rangers who want to play the team from Mystery, Alaska. The townspeople hold a meeting and agree to play the N. Y. Rangers. Emotions run high when as a result John is asked to coach instead of play. He also begins to get jealous when he sees his wife with Charlie.
    You have to watch thhis movie to see what transpires from all of this emotion.
    If you enjoy hockey you're in for some excitement as you watch the Mystery team get ready to play the N. Y. Rangers. This movie will make you want to stand up and boo the Rangers!! You get action, comedy and a little romance all rolled up into one....more info
  • honor and dignity
    If you're looking for the Austin Powers type, you're in the wrong place. But if you want to meet a community of real people living in far Alaska, don't hesitate. In a thrilling challenge to the famous New York Rangers, the local hockey team will try to make its dream come true and win the game, fighting for dignity and success. Every character is worth the shot Mayor Colm Meaney, Judge Burt Reynolds, Sheriff Russell Crowe, journalist Hank Azaria. You liked Field of dreams ? You'll love Mystery Alaska....more info
  • Home-Town Spirit...Great job by Crowe
    Cute little movie about Alaskan small town community bonds together for their men when they host a hockey game against, incredibly, The New York Rangers! This is the breakout/sleeper role I remember Russell Crowe in, he plays captain of the Mystery, Alaska Team who don't really have a chance except for all that home-town spirit on their side and of course, they are used to the -20 degree weather! Has that 'northern exposure-feel' to it. Not a 5 star but, definitely a 4. See this movie and you may just want to see it again! ...more info
  • Part of Your Hockey Collection
    If you are a hockey fan, this movie has to be part of your collection! Besides, without this movie, you will never be able to answer the question, "What are the best two activities to do in the cold?"...more info
  • Put your skates on!
    Everybody ice skates in Mystery, Alaska. There's ice all over the place so the citizens put it to good use with a weekly hockey game among the local athletes. When a local who left manages to get an exibition game with the New York Rangers, the town goes into a turmoil. It's a look at the workings of a small town and all the politics that takes place. Everything that happens is entertaining and heartwarming and the ending will have you cheering with the citizens of Mystery....more info
  • TEAM SPIRIT AND MORE
    What makes MYSTERY ALASKA such a joyful movie experience is its heart, and the remarkably good cast. In the vein of such films as ROCKY, the story of the Mystery Alaska team facing the New York Rangers is merely a means to the end. What this movie is really about is pride, loyalty and the sense of courage to go against seemingly unreachable odds and come out with your pride and honor intact. This is not a "Russell Crowe" movie, although the Oscar winner is superb as John Biebe. This is a group effort and the cast has some shining moments: Ron Eldard (The Runner) plays Skank, the team's sexually active member, who is screwing the mayor's wife (Lolita Davidovich). In a memorable scene, Eldard confronts the Mayor (Colm Meany) and apologizes to him, with a sense of sincerity you hadn't seen before. One expects Meany to throw a punch or yell and scream; watch to find out how it plays out. Lolita Davidovich and Meany also have a tense but touching moment when she tells him why she slept with Eldard; Crowe and Mary McCormack as his wife share several touching scenes that show how deep a love can go; Burt Reynolds as the gruff judge/coach has a shining moment when he addresses the townspeople in a trial of a player who shot a visiting department store magnate in the foot; Maury Chaykin as Bailey Pruitt has key scenes and a very poignant one in the courtroom; Judith Ivey as Reynolds's wife has a wonderful moment when she's discussing sex with her teenage daughter (Rachel Wilson). The movie is full of nice scenes, and refreshing changes of pace thanks to the screenplay by David E. Kelley (Picket Fences). Even Hank Azaria as the homeboy producer avoids the expected cliches of his role---one can tell he really did love Beibe's wife.
    A real surprise of a movie, one that should entertain and make you feel good....more info
  • Crowe showing versatiliy in "Mystery, Alaska"
    If you don't like hockey, okay. But don't let not liking it keep you from seeing "Mystery, Alaska". This movie is about the human spirit and it's ability to overcome great odds. Crowe learned to skate in two weeks or so for this film showing he can overcome odds. This ability is what lead him to an Oscar. But he doesn't carry this movie alone. Every cast member brings originality to their characters which makes this movie funny and heartwarming. If you are looking for a good laugh and a movie you'll watch over and over, it's "Mystery, Alaska." It's a must have for Crowe fans and a good entertainment dollar spent for movie lovers....more info
  • A MUST for Hockey Fans!!
    "This is a hockey town." If you care even just a little about this sport, you must see this movie....more info
  • mystery alaska
    mystery alaska is a very good hockey movie if you are a hockey fan and russell crowe plays a very good role in this movie and there is some humor to go with this movie....more info
  • The best pickup game since "Slap Shot"
    The small town Mystery, Alaska has one bondage when the "Saturday Pick-Up" hockey team keep in check their pride and dignity. In a town where most everyone moves by blade, the community supports their Saturday game. The team is scouted out by a New York agency that settles on that Mystery can take on the New York Rangers for fun. The game is on the pond with realism and the ice has makeshift stands and boards made of lumber to go by the NHL regulations. This was one flick that I never did say "that couldn't happen" because it was close to reality. The storyline touches the heart when you see how a small community can support a team that is also key government (mayor, judge, sheriff). This is worth getting and it is the best storyline for a hockey movie....more info
  • The movie itself is 5 stars
    This is a great movie. No 100 million dollar budgets and wowee special effects. Just good writing and great characters. Oh yeah, and hockey. I love hockey. I think it's the sport of the gods. And I went to see this in the theaters because it featured hockey. But now I watch it because it's a great movie. and it would be a great movie no matter what sport it dealt with (even basketball, yuck!).

    It star s apre-Gladiator Russel Crowe who is the town Sherriff and player during the Saturday Game. The people in mystery love hockey. Their lives revolve around it. Colm Meany plays the town mayor who is for all intents-and-purposes, the general manager of the "team". Hank Azaria plays the town prodigal son who left town for the bright lights and big city of New York and returns promising a game against the New York Rangers as a publicity stunt.

    Admist all the fervor of playing against an NHL team on live TV, Burt Reynolds plays the towns Judge, who cautions them to think it through before agreeing to play a professional team.

    Eventually we get to see the game, and it was nice to see them not end it with a total "feel-good" ending. You can probably guess what I mean by that, but you should buy or rent it anyway.

    I only gave the DVD 4 stars because the DVD was woefully short on extras. Only the usual we have come to expect... commentary tracks and a very short "making of..." filmette. Still, it's a great buy....more info

  • Raunchy, Quirky, Comical, Poignant, Truthful
    The glistening white world of " Mystery, Alaska" presents us with a tale of a hockey town its quirky characters, and the opportunity of their local team to play the New York Rangers, presented to them by Hank Azaria's cocky sports reporter, Charles Danner, a former resident of Mystery.
    Amid this pure, alabaster-looking world is a community dominated by the members of its hockey team. It's not an easy town for women to live in, and many a local lass, including the Mayor's wife, has compromised or almost compromised her virtue with the town heroes, who are full of crass fraternity hijinks and like many townsfolk, equally crass language.
    Burt Reynolds gives a great performance as Judge Walter Burns, the town mentor, who taught numerous kids to skate, and who tries to keep his teenaged daughter, played by Rachel Wilson, away from the lecherous hockey players whereas Judith Ivey's Mrs. Burns seems slightly more passive about the situation, although she confronts her daughter about it at one point. Scott Grimes plays Reynolds' son who feels his future lies in hockey rather than academics.
    Colm Meany hides his Irish accent well as the Mayor who is betrayed by his wife, played by Lolita Davidovitch when she sleeps with the notorious Skank Marden(Ron Eldard). The depths of betrayal don't seem to affect the couple as much as they might in real life once they come to terms with it.
    Russell Crowe's mastery of the subtle, smoldering glance is not lost in his portrayal of the town Sherriff and hockey team Captain, John Biebe. Tossing his moreno-colored, chestnut- streaked mane of hair, squaring shoulders as mountainous as the Canadian scenery(which doubled for Alaska), and speaking with an accent that sounds slightly Nova Scotian, he is one of the more dignified characters in the film with one of the most solid marriages. Azaria's return to town threatens him because his wife, Donna, is Azaria's former girlfriend. Mary McCormack gives a warm-hearted, sympathetic portrayal of Donna Biebe, eventually reassuring her husband that she has no regrets about marrying him. Their reconciliation after a heated argument is poignant, coltish, and downright sexy without revealing too much flesh.
    Maury Chaykin's Bailey Pruitt is the lawyer who gives his life trying to secure the hockey match when it is nearly cancelled. Michael McKean plays the wounded Price World Representative who shows us how not to behave when accidentally shot by a hockey player in a hockey town, if we want a jury to decide in our favor. Kevin Durand's Tree is the stereotypical dim-witted but kind-hearted jock. Comical moments include Megan Price's Sarah Heinz putting the disreputable Skank in his place, and Crowe's unsuccessful attempt to suppress his laughter when dealing with the case.
    There are fun cameos by Little Richard and Mike Myers during the game. Perhaps the best moments of the game are when Crowe's tender family man pauses to signal "I love yous" to his wife and sons while on the ice, and flash that brilliant smile to the audience.
    The outcome of the match is unsatisfyingly realistic. But when Sheriff Biebe places a puck on the grave of the man who fought to prevent the game's cancellation, a bit of foliage before the cross, pushing its way up through the relentless snow, somehow symbolises the determination of the Mystery team in the face of great odds. --A great metaphor for the citizens of Mystery within itself....more info
  • more then just hockey
    this movie is a story of more then just hockey its a story of life in a small town where the people only have a few escapes. This movie tells the ups and downs of this small town of Mystery and how a game against the Rangers changes their world. If your into hockey you'll love this movie if you are not you'll still like it. Rachel Wilson (Burt Reynolds daughter in the movie) is HOT....more info
  • Great move for Hockey Fans..Ok movie for everyone else
    I enjoyed this but I am a hockey fanatic. Frankly there just aren't many movies which deal as effectively with small town hockey culture as this one does. Russell Crowe is very good as the aging leader of a local amateur hocky squad who gets a once in a lifetime chance to prove themselves against the NY Rangers.

    The game sequences toward the end of the movie are worth the wait. However the film does turn to many of the underdog cliches so common to sports themed movies. The pace tends to slow a bit when the focus turns to some of the romances going on in the small town of Mystery.

    Overall a decent film but try renting it first to see if it will stand up to repeated viewings.

    ...more info
  • Slapshot, Miracle, Mystery
    If you want a description of Mystery, take a look at some of the other reviews (but I'd discount the ones by the adolescent hockey dudes),

    If you love hockey, particularly if you play on a recreational or adult team you'll appreciate this movie. It was much better than I expected, and funny as well.

    I've added Mystery to my library which includes the classic, Slapshot, and the historical, Miracle....more info
  • Best Hockey Movie ever
    This is a hockey movie with a plot. A feel good, watch over and over type movie. If you love the outdoors and love hockey, don't miss this one....more info
  • Heart To Spare !
    This is such a perfect little movie, with heart and guts and just the right ammount of small-town quirkiness...A true "crossover" film IMO that will appeal to as many women as men and non-hockey/sports fans as well because of it's well-told story. Even with the obvious homage paid to films like "Rocky", "Mystery,Alaska" stakes it's own unique place in the underdog-genre of film with characters you can't help but care about,great outdoor winter photography, a stirring soundtrack and just superb performances by Russell Crowe, Burt Reynolds and Mary McCormack. A definite keeper for the video/DVD enthusiast to be pulled out again and again for an emotional pick-me-up......more info
  • A Charming, Quirky Little Movie
    I rented this movie not knowing what it was about and fell in love with it. I now own it and my husband and I enjoy the antics of the eccentric characters. The high school boy with "jump" is a joy to watch. His character has several difficult scenes and he does a very comendable job with them. The entire team have foibles and faults. Russell Crowe is Russell Crowe as usual. I am constantly amazed at this mans scope and range as an actor. His ability to slip into the part in entirity, even the accent was great, is fascinating to behold. I recommend this movie if you are looking for one to make you feel good and laugh and cry....more info
  • Mighty Ducks for Adults
    Saw this picture the other night, and I must say that I enjoyed it. The characters are likeable, and each grows in their little way by the end credits. Russell Crowe provides an enjoyable performance as the town sheriff/hockey team captain who is bitter that he has been removed from the town's hockey team in order to make room for the next generation of hockey stars. The film centers around the small town hockey team taking on the NY Rangers, and the conflict that this causes throughout the town of Mystery, Alaska. The end surprised me, and might just surprise you as well. Certainly a film to view, it's one of the better "feel-good" movies that I've seen....more info
  • The Best Movie You Never Heard Of
    "Mystery, Alaska" is probably the best movie you never heard of. For starters, its cast is incredible: Russell Crowe, Hank Azaria, Colm Meany and Burt Reynolds (to name a few) appear, and the acting is as good as the cast would make you hope.

    On top of that, the story is really very good, and the script is expertly written; the movie tells the tale of a small town (Mystery, Alaska), where the central fact of life is the game of hockey. This obsession manifests itself in an event called the Saturday Game, where the town's hockey team plays teams from neighboring towns on a frozen over pond in astonishingly cold weather. But the game, and the town that depends on it for its common bond, becomes strangely manipulated by a turn of events that proposes that Mystery's team play the New York Rangers a game of hockey on the small town pond.

    You don't have to be a hockey fan, or even a sports fan, to appreciate this movie. The life of this small community is magnificently portrayed, and the story promises something for everyone: drama, comedy, sports, you name it. I heard about this movie from a friend, or I never would have known it existed. After renting it, my wife and I liked it enough to go buy it, and everyone we've shown it to has loved it. I can unconditionally recommend it. Enjoy!...more info

  • A movie that leave you feeling good!
    This movie is about a small town hockey team in Mystery, Alaska whose talent draws a professional city team to meet them in a challenge. Crowe, the coach of the team decides its time to put on his skates again and join his friends in this battle on the ice. This movie is good and it leaves you feeling good at the end....more info
  • "We're a hockey town"
    As a professional hockey player and someone who has loved the game for over 30 years... this movie is all hockey. Superb acting from all... Great hockey throughout. Over the years, I've heard, "Oh, Slap-Shot is the ultimate hockey movie." Hog-wash! ... Mystery Alaska should be remembered as the all-time greatest hockey movie, and being that hockey is the all-time greatest sport... Mystery Alaska is by far the all time greatest sports movie!!! ....more info
  • Hockey with Russell Crowe
    Hockey, Russell Crowe, and interesting characters make a good movie. Story centers on a small town with an ice hockey team as its only source of entertainment. As sort of a publicity stunt, the team eventually faces off with a pro-hockey team for a game that turns into a true hockey "game." Good action throughout....more info
  • Greatest hockey movie ever?
    Rivaling "Slapshot" as the best hockey movie in cinema history, "Mystery, Alaska" provides enough action, comedy, and realistic sports scenes to satisfy even a moviegoer not fond of sports movies.

    Between Burt Reynolds and Russell Crowe, the acting weight is sufficient; however, several B-listers and no-namers turn in a convincing and entertaining performance. The Mystery hockey team is a cast of characters that do not disappoint; in fact, they are down-right hilarious. Stevie Weeks, the young upstart, can skate like the wind blows; Tree is the bully enforcer, albeit a little slow mentally; Skank lives up to his name and reputation, but plays tough hockey; and the Winneka brothers move and play as if they have ESP. The star of the team, however, is Connor Banks, a hockey stud who can blast pin-point slapshots all day. Due to a Sports Illustrated article touting the team's skills, the once in a lifetime opportunity to play the New York Rangers presents itself.

    What ensues is the transformation of a small town, high spirits and hijinks, a hilarious National Anthem by Little Richard, a great hockey battle, a perfectly brilliant cameo by Mike Myers, and a great ending.

    I highly recommend this movie to all, and particularly to sports enthusiasts....more info
  • Funny small movie
    This is a fun small movie. Although there are bits of corniness in the movie, it is overall well acted by Crowe, Reynolds, Bello, and Azaria. Great "stuck inside due to snowstorm" movie. ...more info
  • Not what it seems to be...
    This movie is described as a comedy, and some of it is... But there is much more there. At first I thought it would be one of those typical "overcoming the obstacles" movies--- you know the type- the "hero" steps in and saves the team, etc... But it is much more. It is a wonderful and touching movie with an ending that brought me to tears and was totally unexpected. I thought Russell Crowe was fantastic, as always. And I loved the small-town feel. This movie accurately portrayed the sense of community that many of us long for. It is a feel-good movie, with some sadness and many real-life and heartfelt situations. I highly recommend it! I even enjoyed Burt Reynolds in it, which was a surprise! :) He did a wonderful and convincing job as the hard-nosed judge/hockey expert. Rent it!...more info
  • No Mystery - Just Great Moviemaking!
    Mystery Alaska was one of the best comedies to come along in 1999. In the best ensemble film fashion a truly eclectic cast forms the very core of the story that is Mystery, Alaska. Hank Azaria turns in a spectacular performance as "the ugly duckling" - a character not too popular who escaped the town for fame and fortune in television sports. He garners the small town some big time noteriety when the announces that the New York Rangers will challenge a game against the locals pond hockey team. Typical small town chaos ensues as all prepare for the big event.

    Russell Crowe, Burt Reynolds, Lolita Davidovich, Ron Eldard, Colm Meaney, Mary McCormack all turn in fine performances contributing nicely to the oddities inherent in any small town.

    While the story can seem a bit forced formulaic, David Kelly's script and Jay Roach's directing bring a freshness and satisfaction that made this one of 1999's best sleepers.

    A most watchable feel good movie.
    ...more info
  • Totally Enjoyable "Small" Film
    In a town [New York] where "March Madness" has ruined every aspect of TV watching, except for PBS [they're begging instead -- seems as if they do that for two weeks every two weeks or so now], this little film was a real treat for this nonhockey fan! The performances were uniformly excellent [though I wish Russell Crowe would not go so terrifically soft in the voice at times so that you have to pitch your sound way up and then suddenly decrease the volume quickly; Burt Reynolds, an excellent actor, is also guilty of this in this film], the story good, the cinematography excellent -- in short, for me, a really good, totally enjoyable movie! Thank you, producers!!...more info
  • Greatttt
    This is one of my favorite movies a great story and a great hockey movie. This was a great movie and I absolutely love it. I watch it constantly and I have many friends who feel the same way....more info
  • Decent screenplay overshadowed by a lousy leading man
    There is one major problem with this movie, and the problem's name is Russell Crowe. I CAN'T STAND Russell Crowe! I think he is one of the most overrated actors around, and his arrogance bleeds into every single movie he appears in. He is not particularly talented and makes the same faces in every film, and it drives me CRAZY! In this case, we have what could have been an okay movie, but Russell Crowe poisoned the whole thing with his very presence.

    "Mystery, Alaska" has the potential to be a decent movie. It's about the small Alaskan town of Mystery, a place where everybody knows everyone else and each resident is obsessed with the game of hockey. One day a former Mystery resident turned sports promoter returns to town with very exciting news: he's set up an exhibition game between Mystery amateur hockey players and the New York Rangers. The people of Mystery must learn to put aside their various differences and pull together in preparation for the event of a lifetime.

    This film is sentimental and can basically be summed up in one cliche: "It's not about whether you win or lose; it's how you play the game." There are several strong performances in this movie, including Hank Azaria as Mystery's prodigal son and Burt Reynolds as the town judge/coach. However, Russell Crowe spoiled the whole film for me. He plays the town sheriff/hockey player/coach, and he's basically just a big cocky oaf on ice. There's this one scene where Crowe's character is supposed to have a "touching" moment with his wife. He crosses out a bunch of words in a newspaper column and instructs his wife to read the remaining characters out loud. I think the intention of the scene was for Crowe's character to come across as being all sentimental and deep, but it was just incredibly stupid and serves as a perfect example of how every movie Crowe is in basically turns to garbage.

    If ANYONE but Russell Crowe had been cast in the role of John, "Mystery, Alaska" might be worth watching. Sadly, though, I must advise you to skip it....more info
  • One of the best movies, ever
    I loved this movie. First off, because it was a great story, very unlike the typical hollywoodized drivel that the studios usually see as necessary to sell a movie. David E. Kelly has created a wonderful world in the fictitious town of Mystery, Alaska, which characterizations memorable of most of his successful television shows. Secondly, I loved this movie because of it's casting...BEFORE Russel Crowe was "Russel Crowe," where it seems the actors were cast to best fill their roles rather than to bring up numbers at the box office. This movie made me want to go out and learn how to play ice hockey. If you love movies about overcoming obstacles to live the american dream, you'll love this movie....more info
  • A Hockey Movie That's Sadly Realistic
    I have been playing organized ice hockey for 13 of the 17 years that I have been alive. Of all the hockey initiated films that I have seen, Mystery, Alaska is the most accurate. The lives of the hockey players in the movie are just like my true life and my life is sad. At about the age of 14, hockey becomes very vicious, brutal and intimidating. A lot of my teammates were dirty goons who only played the sport for it's open violence and, off the ice were sex obsessed. This is just how the movie is portrayed and that's just what hockey is like. It isn't a topic that should have been made into a movie unless it was proving a point. It doesn't tell in any way, tell that the greatness at all levels of hockey is diminishing, but it is. Soon enough, it won't even be a sport anymore. This movie just repeats the sad truth. It is damned sad that most players either don't care about anything but hockey, or don't give enough respect to the sport. Mystery, Alaska reinstates this and by making this movie, they worsened the chance of hockey shaping up. As for the plot, the pond game was boring and having the heroes lose didn't give it any kind of original cleverness or genius ending. This movie is a shame....more info
  • great film, great service
    It was shipped quickly, and I really appreiciate that. Great seller. I would deffinately buy from them again....more info
  • Best Movie To Ever Lose $35 Million
    This is actually a great movie and better than the hockey movie Miracle (2004). But Mystery, Alaska is not a true sports movie. It's really a comedy/drama wrapped around a hockey story. It was however great to see Phil Esposito in the movie, since "Espo" was one of the greatest hockey players in history.

    Unfortunately, the making of the movie was a disaster from day one. It had the wrong director, the studio blew over $30 million making the film, and its theatre release was significantly delayed.

    I couldn't believe the studio didn't cancel making the movie when the director wanted to build the whole town of Mystery with over 50 buildings, just to shoot the movie. Totally crazy!, but the studio finally said OK.

    This movie never would have made it without some of the R rated humor and scenes. Really funny and perfect for this little town, and it's people, out in nowhere....more info
  • Excellent character-driven movie
    I love hockey, and I love David E. Kelley, so it's no great surprise that I also loved "Mystery, Alaska." Russell Crowe, Hank Azaria, Colm Meaney, Ron Eldard, and Kevin Durand all turn in convincing, heart-warming performances, and the setting (in Banff) is just spectacular.

    The story takes places in the fictional town of Mystery, deep in Alaska's mountains. It's incredibly cold there, and the town's favorite pasttime is hockey. The Mystery boys are undefeated on pond ice, and the Saturday game is a huge deal for the little burg. Hank Azaria's character had left Mystery to pursue a writing career, and made the town famous with an article in "Sports Illustrated," which caught the eye of NHL bigwigs. The bigwigs signed the New York Rangers, one of the NHL's long-standing great teams, to come up and play an exhibition game against the Mystery team.

    The results of that decision are what drives this movie, and in the end, winning or losing the game itself isn't what's important. It's a story about communities, relationships, and the strong bonds between teammates. Don't let this fool you into thinking it's a chick flick, tho; it's a movie that men and women alike will enjoy. There are laugh-out-loud moments, and lot of big grin moments, and a few very heart-touching ones as well, but nothing overly-sappy.

    The DVD extra features are sadly lacking, though, the only one of interest being an exceedingly brief behind-the-scenes featurette, which has a few moments of interest, but generally doesn't have anything overwhelming to offer. I would have loved to have seen some outtakes of skating mishaps and cut-ups. Alas.

    I really recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys strong character performances and films such as "Doc Hollywood," which offer an insight into the life of tiny towns....more info

  • Genuinely fun movie
    I rented this DVD having never even heard of the movie.But after having watched it, Mystery, Alaska has become one of my favorite movies. This enjoyable tale about a town full of eccentric, hockey-obsessed people, moves along at a nice, steady pace. Unlike many movies these days, Mystery, Alaska doesn't rush through important plot points. When a former neighbor returns home bringing the New York Rangers to play against Mystery's legendary hockey team, the town sheriff, recently bumped from the team for a younger player who's got "jump", agrees to coach. The members of the team are fleshed out well by an ensemble cast of virtual unknowns, with the exception of Russell Crowe. The ending is exciting, and surprisingly unpredictable. For me, the actor that stole the show was Ryan Northcott, a barely credited character, who plays the pivotal role of the high school skating whiz who takes Russell Crowe's place on the team. He has a couple of the most amusing, and embarassing, scenes in the movie, and handles them with humor and grace. Overall, Mystery, Alaska was a funny, enjoyable movie that I recommend to everyone. You don't have to be a hockey fan to love Mystery, Alaska....more info
  • A Lesser Known Crowe Movie That DESERVES To Be Known
    I ran across this wonderful little Russell Crowe movie shortly after seeing him in the great "Gladiator." I was in Blockbuster, locating movies for my own Crowe film festival and the cover caught my eye before I realized he was even in it. So back went the wonderful "The Insider" (filmed partially in my hometown) for another day.

    I am so glad I did because "Mystery Alaska" was such a surprising discovery that I'm constantly suggesting it to friends and family, particularly to see Crowe in a role quite unlike his more famous Bud White, Maximus, Jeffrey Wigand and John Nash. Once again, the talented Aussie reveals his wide range, and the fact that he is a true actor and not simply a movie star.

    This time he is not the savior of Rome, or courageous whistleblower, or multi-faceted Fifties cop, but John Biebe (Bee-be), sheriff in a tiny Alaskan town where hockey is as much a religion as college basketball is in Kentucky! For thirteen years he has been on the Mystery hockey team and played in the "Saturday game" -- made up of townsmen -- but as with many athletes, although in his thirties, he is replaced by a younger, up and rising player. On top of that blow is the return of Hank Azaria as sleazy hometown boy who got away, became a writer, and returns with a publicity stunt to bring the New York Rangers to Mystery to play the local team. (Azaria had written a Sports Illustrated article on the Mystery team, and that attracted attention). Azaria dated Crowe's wife (Mary McCormick)in high school, and Biebe's jealousy surfaces. So not only does Biebe have to accept his new role on the team, but his feelings towards his wife's old boyfriend, as well as other little incidents going on within their small town.

    As he's done with other characters, Crowe gives Biebe several layers so that we see a man at a crossroads in his life. In fact, it's watching scenes with Crowe that make this movie as beautiful as the scenery! The man can express more with his facial features than most so-called actors can with a page of words: whether a smile, the glow of love in his eyes, his jealousy, his hurt, the permanent loss of a good friend. In one scene, when you see the tears and how red his eyes are, then hear the emotion in his voice, you feel his pain as well. But let's face it ladies, you can't help watching one locker room scene several times to *clears throat* study Crowe's physical talents! *bg* (Okay, he has great arms. LOL)

    Seriously, the movie is a small charmer, from Crowe and Maury Chaykin (of "The Insider"), to the Canadian views portraying Alaska, to some rather humorous lines ("Women don't like to be referred to as fat mammals...") John Biebe has become one of my top three Russell Crowe characters, even more than Maximus and Bud. After seeing this movie, he may become one of yours too. I regret the DVD doesn't contain more special features but I can deal with it. Definitely pick this one up for your Crowe collection!...more info

  • Ryan Northcott
    See this movie for Ryan Northcott who plays "Stevie" he is so hot. The scene in the snow plow was great....more info
  • This one is so great that even non-sports fans will love it
    Ever since I saw the previews for it a couple of years ago, I knew I had to see "Mystery, Alaska." One thing that surprised me was that my mom even liked it and she HATES watching any kind of sports. Another thing, I haven't ever been that much of a hockey fan myself. In my whole life, I probably haven't watched enough hockey to account for more than two whole NHL games. I'm an NBA and MLB fan instead. However, I liked "Mystery, Alaska" A LOT!

    An amateur, but very skilled hockey team from a small town in Alaska called Mystery, get national attention after a former resident writes an article praising them. Surprisingly, this earns the now not so mysterious team from Mystery, Alaska, a game against THE New York Rangers. Will the Mystery team that is led by the town sheriff (Russell Crowe) and is coached by the town's strict judge (Burt Reynolds), have a chance against professionals who get paid millions of dollars to play the game they love?

    Let me make it short, I have never been a hockey fan in my life, but I really enjoyed this movie a lot, and my mom doesn't like any sports, and she even liked it. Even if you're not a hockey fan in the least sense or even a sports fan, give "Mystery, Alaska" a shot. It doesn't have any spectacular special effects or anything fancy, and that's good because it didn't need it. But let me tell you, this movie never gets boring the whole time and it features great acting from everybody, especially Burt Reynolds and Russell Crowe....more info

  • you want family fun, look elsewhere, but for a 2 hour ride, it's alright
    Mystery Alaska is a bit of a strange movie. Even though it's about a small hockey team in a small fictional town of Alaska (called Mystery) that badly wants the opportunity to play the New York Rangers, for some reason, there's lots of comedy bits that involve punching people in the face, and sexual themes with SEVERE cuss words that make the movie entirely inappropriate for children. So this is NOT recommended for fans of the Mighty Ducks.

    You also have a chilly Little Richard making an appearance, an old woman who complains a lot, cheating housewives, Russell Crowe playing with his hair (what a weird guy) and then serious stuff like the hockey team training on the ice and facing the Rangers. The movie wants you to get into the small town and absorb the feel of the people and the way they go about their lives, but it never really works because the story is supposed to be about ice hockey. So all that stuff about "who's sleeping with who" misses the mark. A decent movie, but nothing incredibly interesting....more info
  • Hockey and Russell Crowe
    Good characters and storyline. Small town hockey team faces off with a pro-hockey team that comes to town as a publicity stunt....more info
  • Awesome Movie
    For all you hockey lovers out there this movie is for you.
    This movie is all about this team that just played hockey in there hometown who basically become very well known and good and there is romance twists in this movie as well. This movie is just soooo good I recomend it to anyone. I rate this movie a 10+....more info
  • FANTASTIC
    I rented the movie and watched it twice in one week. It was just as exciting to watch the second time as it was the first. I didn't want to return it to the video store. It's definately on my list of movies to buy....more info
  • Best part is Russell Crowe of course...
    This movie is a bit course but it is still entertaining because first of all, Russell Crowe can make anything entertaining. Secondly, one can't help but get into the story and root for these Alaskans who play hockey for the absolute love of the game. I myself do not care for hockey. However, I found myself getting into it as I would be if I were watching a boxing match if it were Sylvester Stallone in the role of Rocky. Oh Yeah! The role of Russell as a insecure, committed husband with sexy long hair was also a real plus. Can you imagine,ladies? Whew! A good movie for gals and guys alike. Putting Russell off the team as he is a bit older and slower was enough to get the old heart pumping with indignation. If anything, one must continue watching just to see if he gets to play again....more info
  • Mystery, Alaska is the place to be!
    This charming film didn't get the positive praise it deserved. It was absolutely wonderful. The small Alaskan town of "Mystery" has a quirky "Northern Exposure" feel to it, and a wonderful ensemble cast add a lot of fun and games.

    The "Saturday" hockey game leads off this fairy-tale story of David vs. Goliath, as their hometown boys go against the NHL'S New York Rangers. Former "townie" Hank Azaria starts this whole thing by writing a spotlight on the "Saturday Game" for Sports Illustrated and well.. Mystery is never the same after that. Russell Crowe turns in a great performance as "slightly older" town Sherif John Biebe, who is the heart and soul of the much younger hockey team. There are many wonderful smaller performances by faces you'll certainly know and love. It's a wonderfully sweet, charming and funny (with classic one liners from MANY of the young players) movie that only HAPPENS to be about hockey. There is so much more to it. You don't have to know a thing about hockey to appreciate this fun and lighthearted movie. It's right up there with my all-time favs. Definatley worth a look!...more info

  • It's No Mystery That This is a Great Movie!
    Mystery, Alaska is the story of a small Alaskan town that revolves around "The Saturday Game," in which locals compete in weekly hockey games. The players include the town sheriff, a grocer, an elementary school teacher, and nearly everyone in the town plays some part in the games, on or off the ice.

    Conflict arises when the town's boast that "no one can beat their team on a pond" is carried off to New York by a native Mysterian, who convinces the New York Rangers to challenge the Mystery players to a match that they will never forget.

    This is a thoroughly enjoyable movie for hockey lovers and even for those who know nothing about the sport (like me). It incorporates a good deal of humor amidst light-hearted drama, and is just a great story!...more info

  • Will make you stand up and cheer...
    Mystery Alaska has talent, but that talent, much like it's homefront, remains a Mystery. That is until they are made a huge offer, one that they can't refuse. Charles Danner (Hank Azaria), the towns 'one who got away' is back now with a telivision crew and a network deal to bring the New York Rangers in to play their local hockey team. Former team player and local Sheriff John Biebe (Russell Crowe) is assigned to play coach but he doesn't want it and feels that Judge Burns (Burt Reynolds) would be the best choice...but he doesn't want it either. In the meantime, Charles is making the moves on Biebe's wife Donna (Mary McCormick) his ex-flame and that alone tests the grounds and fabric of the whole operation, for if the coach gives up, well then there goes the team. The final game is as edge of your seat as it comes and will have you cheering and then crying and then cheering some more. This film does good to get you interested in the charactors and rooting for these men and women to suceed in fulfilling their dreams. Great film with steller performances by Crowe, as always, and Reynolds & Azaria as well. Great feel good movie with heart and soul! ...more info
  • An ice hockey love story?!
    In the small town of Mystery, ice hockey players are heroes. Thin, non-sportive males are sent away, presumably with some homosexual insults thrown at them: Quite typical for some of the more squalid little towns out there. The story focuses on the oh-so-tough players on the frozen village pond, and their oh-so-heroic fight against some US league team. If you're into Burt "I can't act" Reynolds and brutal sports action, you might like this film. If not, then you'd better not touch this film with a ten-foot pole: Boring story, mostly lousy acting (Russell Crowe being an exception). And a rather painfully stupid romance angle that must have been edited into the script during, probably, very many amateurish script re-writes....more info
  • The Mystery of Alaska
    If you want to know about the great state of Alaska, just watch M. Jay Roach's Mystery, Alaska. According to this film, Alaska has the following:
    cold, hockey, freezing snow, adultery, bitter cold, underage sex (maybe because of the cold), and hockey.

    And that's just about it.

    Now if you're not familiar with M. Jay Roach, he's the director of the Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery/The Spy Who Shagged Me/Goldmemberfilms, so I was expecting this movie to be funnier. There are some reallly funny moments, but it made me appreciate how much the humor of Austin Powers should be attributed to Mike Myers. The director is just there to help manage things. Mystery, Alaska tries to be funny, and it manages sometimes, but it's really an ensemble romantic film tied around a Rocky story.

    It's no Rocky, though. That movie had real gravitas. This one has Burt Reynolds, who should, like the Rolling Stones (No Stone Unturned + 7 Bonus Tracks), quit. He's absolutely the worst part in this movie. He made me want to relive my junior high days. They were more fun than watching him. Russel Crowe is great, of course, but his acting is beside the point. He's only one small part of this larger town, and the movie doesn't focus on him, not like it should in order to be labeled a good movie.

    The fact is, though--I guess I should admit it--I enjoyed Mystery, Alaska. It was a feel good movie about how it's okay to live in a small town. The people in small towns are just as good as the jerks from the big cities who look down on them and call them "hicks" or even "lumberjacks" in this case. Being from a small town in South Carolina, I sympathized with that point. It made me feel warm inside.

    And the characters are likeable, too. I found myself caring about them. I wanted them to make good. I wanted their lives to be enjoyable. I wanted them to win their big hockey game.

    But these things do not a good movie make. Mystery, Alaska is, finally, enjoyable but not great. Comforting but trite. Warm but, well, freezing cold. ...more info
  • {Three-and-a-half stars] Good effort from Burt and Russell Crowe on Hockey-'Rudy' type film
    Underdog Hockey team in small working class
    Alaska town takes on New York Rangers, to 2-2
    tie in pond hockey game, during NHL Winter
    break. Reynolds gives good Knute Rockne-style
    between periods speech. I saw this film on
    plane ride to Canada back in 2001 and liked
    it despite foul language. Be careful showing
    it to kids, parents but for adult entertainment,
    it's OK and likable enough....more info
  • Mystery Alaska
    I wasn't sure if I would like this movie because I do not like Russell Crowe at all. The only reason I agreed to sit through it was that the rest of the ensemble cast was so good. I ended up enjoying this film. Who doesn't like a film where you can root for the underdog? The hockey team in Mystery, Alaska ends up playing an exhibition game against the New York Rangers. Everyone has the same question - can they compete? This is a movie that can appeal to many because while there are some very funny moments, there is also a lot of drama.
    ...more info
  • Just so Lame
    Really, this movie was flat out dumb. I have to admit there was some clever dialoge and Russell Crowe showed to be capable of dry comidy. He was really quite loveable, a take off from his typical ultra macho roles. The scenery was spectacular but the story was just so stupid and predictable. Too much profanity to be a kids film but nothing to hold an adults attention except: hope, that at some point the film would just have to get better or that Russell would show some skin, for us female fans. Unless you are a total feel good movie fan or you just have to see every Crowe film made....forget it....more info
  • Heartwarming.....
    Mystery, Alaska is one of those movies called a "sleeper". Not much heard about it and not much expected when you see it, but it turns out to be an amazing feel good, heartwarming kind of movie. If you love hockey, then it's a must have for your collection. If you love good, clean, family oriented and feel good kind of movies, then it's definitely worth the purchase....more info
  • Fun Flick
    I give this five stars not because it's a cinematic masterpiece, but because it's fun and very re watchable. All the pieces fit. You won't laugh hard the whole time, but there are moments and I always enjoy this movie....more info
  • One of Russell's Best
    I loved this movie. It was one of my first Russell Crowe movies. I am not a sports fan but even if you are not you can enjoy this movie. The romance and humor that flows through it, is wonderful....more info
  • A have-fun, feel-good movie!
    Against a gorgeous background of snow-capped mountains, Mystery, Alaska tells the story of a small town which is united by its love of hockey and pride in those who play it. The best players participate in the "Saturday Game" where citizens play 5-on-5 hockey on a small pond with no lines, no boards, but lots of fans. A former Mystery resident, now a promoter, comes back to his home town with a proposal that the hometown boys take on the New York Rangers. What are the chances--but who cares when the town joins together in mutual pride to face down their vaunted rivals. Nothing too deep here, but just good fun and old-timey, small-town spirit. You'll find yourself cheering for the undermanned team from the frozen north and having a great time while doing it....more info
  • A Movie With a Heart As Big As All Outdoors
    If you're interested in this movie, it's probably because it stars Russell Crowe. But if you thought that was the only reason to see this film, have I got some good news for you.

    Mystery, Alaska, population 633, is a town obsessed with hockey. From the time they're children, every Mystery boy's dream is to be a member of the town's unnamed hockey team in the weekly "Saturday game." Through a sequence of events only slightly farfetched, the Mystery team is scheduled for an exhibitition game with the visiting New York Rangers, an event of only slightly less importance to this hockey-struck town than the Second Coming. One of the many great things about this movie is the town's reaction to news of the impending game. They're not awestruck by the Rangers, the visiting demi-gods; their first reaction is, "Can we win?" If Mystery plays, they intend to win. The Rangers might be big league American hockey, but Mystery has faith in its boys. It knows they're great even if the rest of the world doesn't.

    The movie is about how the town and its inhabitants are affected by the upcoming game. The game itself, though perfectly realized in the film, is almost incidental. Colm Meaney (late of Star Trek: The Next Generattion and Deep Space Nine) plays the town mayor who discovers his wife (Lolita Davidovich) is sleeping with a member of the hockey team. Hank Azaria is Charles Danner, the home town boy who was never respected growing up, became a reporter out in the great big world, brings back to Mystery the NEW YORK RANGERS....and finds he's still not respected. Donna Biebe (Mary McCormack) is the girl Charles loved in high school, now married to team captain and town sheriff John Biebe (Crowe). Burt Reynolds, who still has it, and in spades, after all these years, plays town judge Walter Burns. Walter as a young man wasn't good enough for the Saturday game, a fact he's never forgotten and a source of conflict with his son, who's made the current team. But Walter was good enough for minor league hockey in the lower 48, making him the perfect choice to coach the team for and through the big game. He's the only person in town who really understands North American hockey. For his own reasons, he refuses.

    Then there's Russell Crowe as John Biebe. The big game comes at the tail end of John's career. After 13 years in the Saturday game - a Mystery record - he's cut from the team just before news of the Rangers' visit hits town. And the town fathers, whose most solemn duties involve administering the hockey team, don't want him back. A man of quiet strength but not good at expressing his softer emotions, John doesn't know how to tell his wife how much he loves her when he sees Charles flirting, and her flirting back. The way he figures out finally to do that is both inventive and touching.

    Though this movie "stars" Russell Crowe, it's not a star driven vehicle, it's an ensemble piece. And while Russell is wonderful as John Biebe, for my money the best performance in the film is Ron Eldard as "Skank" Marden, Mystery hockey player and dedicated fornicator. The scene where Skank appears on the mayor's doorstep one frozen night to apologize to the man he's cuckolded is, I think, the highlight of the film. It's fascinating to watch the unexpected decency, sensitivity, and dignity emerge from what til then seemed an indecent, shallow, undignified man.

    The hockey game footage is convincing - thrilling, actually. Russell learned to ice skate for this role, and, with the help of some careful editing, looks pretty darn good on the ice. Numerous Rangers play themselves.

    Mystery, Alaska has been called "Rocky On Ice" and that's a fair description. Yes, the film deals with a hockey game, but that's not what makes it special. This isn't a dumb, gimmicky, braindead hockey flick like The Mighty Ducks. It's a character driven, imaginative, well-acted drama....that happens to work within the framework of a story about a hockey game. By the time the Rangers arrive in Mystery you're totally on the home team's side, rooting for them because you've come to care for the Mystery boys, and respect the sacrifices they, and the town as a whole, have made for this game. Like Rocky, Mystery, Alaska shows you don't need a huge budget to make a good movie when you have a great script, solid direction, good actors, and the film possesses that quality indefinable but impossible to mistake or ignore: "heart."

    So, can a team of pond hockey players from Mystery, Alaska REALLY beat the New York Rangers? Watch this movie and find out....more info