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Mystery, Alaska

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Mystery, Alaska

Starring: Russell Crowe, Mary McCormack
Director: Jay Roach
Rated: R
RunTime: 119 Minutes
Release Date: October 1999
Genre: Comedy

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Review by Susan Granger
2 stars out of 4

Just because he just won two Emmys for "The Practice" and "Ally McBeal" doesn't mean David E. Kelley can score every time. This story revolves around a publicity stunt that pits the world-famous New York Rangers in a televised exhibition game against a hometown team from Mystery, Alaska, population 633. The genesis for the face-off is a "Sports Illustrated" article, written by a former native, Hank Azaria, that explores the rural legend of a small Alaskan town where, for generations, young men aspire to nothing more than being on the local ice hockey team. It's a place where people are so obsessed with the sport that they leave the streets frozen for skating. And the comedy comes from a culture clash between the media hype and the rugged Alaskan eccentrics. Burt Reynolds plays the stuffy town judge and hockey coach. Russell Crowe is the sheriff and, at 34, a 13-year veteran of the team, while Ryan Northcott is a high-school whiz who threatens Crowe's prestigious position. Directed by Jay Roach ("Austin Powers"), it's like "Northern Exposure" meets "The Longest Yard," although too much time is spent on superficial strained marriages and father-son relationships. Colm Meaney, Mary McCormack, Michael Buie, Michael McKean, Ron Eldard, Judith Ivey, and Lolita Davidovich embody colorful characters who add to the predictable melodrama as Little Richard sings "The Star-Spangled Banner" and Mike Myers broadcasts the game. There's lots going on but little depth. If you're looking for a really good hockey movie, rent the video of George Roy Hill's "Slapshot," which was filmed in the mid-'70s at Yale. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Mystery, Alaska" slides in with a chilly 5. The puck stops here.

Copyright 2000 Susan Granger

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