Mystery, Alaska

Jamaican bobsledders, punk boxers, mongrel horses, impoverished go-cart racers... How our hearts pound when these underdogs go up against corporate-backed competitors with all the advantages, and, through sheer force of pluck and grit, show them that it isn't about winning or losing; it's all about heart. That, at least, is the cynical thinking behind this...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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Jamaican bobsledders, punk boxers, mongrel horses, impoverished go-cart racers... How our hearts pound when these underdogs go up against corporate-backed competitors with all the advantages, and, through sheer force of pluck and grit, show them that it isn't

about winning or losing; it's all about heart. That, at least, is the cynical thinking behind this thoroughly artificial bit of inspirational hogwash, in which a gang of backwater Alaskan hockey players get to take on the New York Rangers. The Mystery team is a bunch of weekend warriors who

range from local sheriff John Biebe (Russell Crowe) to high school hotshot Steve Weeks (Ryan Northcott). They may be amateurs, but hey — in the frozen North skating is a way of life and in Mystery, hockey is a secular sacrament. A laudatory Sports Illustrated article by former

Mysterian Charlie Danner (Hank Azaria), who was just about run out of town years earlier for "skating like a homosexual," inspires a publicity stunt whose spectacular venality, wrapped in the rhetoric mantle of feel-good human interest, is the only thing about the movie that rings absolutely true.

Ironic, that. Charlie wrote in his article that man for man, the Mystery team is as good as any in the pros, so the owners of the Rangers decide to send their top-notch players to Alaska for a heavily promoted exhibition game. In between the announcement that the Rangers are coming and the big

game itself, relationships are sundered and mended, cynics are converted into starry-eyed believers and the townspeople of Mystery get to display the full range of annoying quirks that characterize David E. Kelley's light-hearted projects. There are people who eat this kind of thing right up

— if you're one of them, dig in.

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  • Released: 1999
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Jamaican bobsledders, punk boxers, mongrel horses, impoverished go-cart racers... How our hearts pound when these underdogs go up against corporate-backed competitors with all the advantages, and, through sheer force of pluck and grit, show them that it is… (more)

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