Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Mystery, Alaska

Mystery, Alaska
1995 -- Rated R
Director: Jay Roach
Russell Crowe, Hank Azaria, Burt Reynolds

    Before Russell Crowe took the world by storm in Gladiator, he was a star in his native Australia. I first noticed him as the gunslinger-turned-preacher in 1995's The Quick and the Dead with Sharon Stone. I went to see Mystery Alaska because I wanted to go see a movie that night and I had already seen everything else at the theatre, so I said what the heck and bought a ticket. Sometimes serendipity is fortuitous because this is a gem of a movie that almost got by me.

    Mystery, Alaska is a town that revolves around it's weekend ice hockey matches. In a town that is snowed in for much of the year, the townspeople talk of little else and find their identity in the weekly matches amongst themselves. When Charles Danner (Hank Azaria), who has left the humble burg for the big city arranges to have a professional hockey team come play a match against the Mystery team it requires the townspeople to set aside their differences and pull together to beat the big league boys who aren't taking them seriously.

    Burt Reynolds as the towns judge and stoic critic of the home team has a engaging performance. Alongside Crowe's role as the town's police chief and the team's captain is a bevy of character actors that really flesh out this movie and make it an enjoyable experience - even if you are not a hockey fan!

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