Mystery, Alaska (1999) Review

An amateur ice hockey team in Mystery, Alaska has the chance to play against the New York Rangers as an exhibition game, the whole town get in with the excitement it brings.


The ice hockey team in Mystery are very different to the National Hockey League and it is known as pond hockey with them actually playing outdoors on the frozen ponds rather than in arenas and on ice rinks. They believe that the opportunity to play against the New York Rangers will give them a chance to get more well known, although the issue is the when things are then brought together so is a stand and ice rink with boards something the players are not used to at all.

John Biebe is sheriff in the town and ends up at first coaching the team but then becomes a player. This all comes about when Charles Danner returns to his hometown with this big idea, although considering his history with Donna, who is now John’s wife it was certainly going to create a little bit of tension. Actually a lot of tension with affairs and cheating going on had the potential to rip the team and support apart. Especially with Skank Marden having an affair with Mary Jane Pitcher who just happens to be the wife of Major Scott Pitcher.

So with all of that going on as well as the hockey game to prepare for the film has plenty of things to keep it interesting. Although not too interesting as what we end up with is a rather average film. A little bit of a shame as I really do love sports films, this is just a little bit lacklustre at times. The game seems to take a long time to get too and it certainly helps to highlight the difference between amateur and professional players when it comes to playing.

How the preparations were different and being able to deal with acting playing outside was not something the New York Rangers were used to. I also liked the ending as I was expecting it to go for the full fairy tale approach and pleased it stayed somewhat realistic. Comparing it to football and when the non-league teams face a Premier League club, you might give it a good shot, your best efforts but in the end its never quite enough.

Performance wise I enjoyed Russell Crowe in the leading role, I mean that is usually the case isn’t it when he is in a film? I thought he had the right balance for the character and this meant that as a viewer you wanted to see him succeed. Hank Azaria was actually in more of a serious role than I think I have seen him in before, although maybe just when he was David in Friends? I liked that side of his acting that is for sure. Burt Reynolds has a small yet very effective role and scene steals a couple of times. Colm Meaney is one of my favourite supporting actors, I feel that way since seeing him on stage back in 2008!

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