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Mystery, Alaska

339 customer reviews

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(May 09, 2000)
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Editorial Reviews

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

Special Features

Production Featurette|Theatrical Trailers

Product Details

  • Actors: Russell Crowe, Colm Meaney, Beth Littleford, Hank Azaria, Brent Stait
  • Directors: Jay Roach, Peter Deming
  • Writers: David E. Kelley, Sean O'Byrne
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Hollywood Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: May 9, 2000
  • Run Time: 119 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (339 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00003CWUX
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,518 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Mystery, Alaska" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

65 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Caroline P. Hampton on September 23, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
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!
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Hollis Boyd on August 31, 2000
Format: DVD
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.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Squid on February 25, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
This film has something for everyone. This story of the Saturday Game in the small town of Mystery, AK unfolds into a wonderful story, not just of a pond-hockey team playing against the New York Rangers, but of the pride of an entire town. It is full of light hearted humor, but this movie is no joke. You become a citizen of Mystery as you not only laugh, but also cry and of course, cheer. Mystery Alaska has enough hockey to keep any sports fan entertained. The movie also has plenty of action and drama to please the crowd that asks "Wayne who?" It truely is a movie for all. If you are a hockey fan, I am here to tell you, this is the new "Slap Shot".
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By C. E. Miles on June 21, 2000
Format: DVD
I have to begin this by saying that I am a hockey fan. But I think I liked "Mystery Alaska" becasue it's a really good story. Many movies try to dazzle you with an all star cast and huge special effects budget, but in the end only disappoint you because at the core of the film there's no actual story. "Mystery Alaska" is the story of a quirky little town that revolves around the Saturday hockey game played on the local pond. Being a member of the team is a prestigious and revered position in Mystery. There is no pay or world wide fame gained from being in the Saturday game, but the men play because their fathers played, and their fathers played. It's funny to watch the men obsess over the their spot on the team, because only a select few hold those spots. When one of the men is replaced by the young up and comer in town, it's almost as though someone has died. "Mystery Alaska" does boast a great cast, including: Russell Crowe (Gladiator), Colm Meany (Con Air) & Burt Reynolds. If you like the feel good sports movie genre, and also enjoy a little quirky humor, then this might be the movie for you.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Evan Miller on September 20, 2001
Format: DVD
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.
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