When Mystery, Alaska's amateur hockey team accepts a challenge to play against the New York Rangers, the entire population must put their petty differences aside and pull together as their small town becomes the center of a nationally televised event. Written by
The defense Russell Crowe teaches the team is a Neutral Zone Trap, or simply, The Trap/Trap. It was made famous by the NJ Devils in the late 90s and early 00s, culminating in 3 Stanley Cup championships. It greatly diminishes scoring opportunities. See more »
When the female news reporter (Janice Pettiboe) arrives at town hall and gets out of her car, she talks to Chuck and the mayor (both of whom also speak), but she is the only one whose breath can be seen due to the cold. See more »
[John is jealous after seeing his wife and Charles Danner laughing together in the stands, while John was busy trying to coach the team. Donna doesn't understand why he is upset]
You've been smilin' a lot lately.
[smiling, still puzzled]
Ever since he came back. Charlie. You been smilin' a little more.
John. That was high school.
[He walks a few steps, kicking the snow to reveal the frozen pond below. Then he kicks at the ice again and speaks metaphorically]
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Seldom have I come across a script so good for a premise so slight...
... That a film so seemingly inconsequential pays such care and attention to its characters is to its utmost credit. Before viewing I mistakenly assumed this was a gig Crowe took only because he needed the career-boost. How wrong I was!
We've all essentially seen this before in one form or another; underdogs band together to reaffirm pride for their history and heritage, all thanks to the great leveller we've come to know as 'sports'. Sure, all the expected clichés are present, and I did get a little annoyed at just how MUCH hockey was in the last segment, considering I'd previously been enjoying the character details too much to really care about the event that unifies them - but it's the rich characterisation that prompts many a smile, delighted laugh and one or two moments of poignancy. It's 'fuzzy' - and I guess perhaps manipulative - without being sickening, and that must come down to Kelley's background in the world of populist TV. There are enough sharp lines to offset the sentiment, so you don't tend to bristle when it's there!
Jay Roach really impressed me with this one, as it proves that he's more than 'adept' enough to handle a little pathos, too; a branch of comedy I somehow don't see the Austin Powers franchise extending toward... ! Although the final game is a bit 'dull' from my perspective, the hockey training scenes are inventively shot; keeping the speed and fluency of a viscerally exciting spectacle. Burt Reynolds again excels after "Boogie Nights", with a completely different performance this time - 'quiet dignity' instead of brash smarm.
Really it's unfair to single out, though, from such a fantastic ensemble. It's the sense of togetherness and perfect encapsulation of small-town spirit that makes this work, and if you're searching for a movie to lift your gloom then it's no 'Mystery' where you should look: Alaska... ! 9/10.
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