From David E. Kelly, the guy who brought us "Ally McBeal" and "The Practice"... and Lake Placid, comes Mystery, Alaska, a movie that is almost as good as The Mighty Ducks. He makes up for his horror blunder with this hockey comedy.
Russel Crowe helms the cast alongside such people as Burt Reynolds and Hank Azaria (and a cameo appearance by Mike Myers... the same guy who directed him in Austin Powers directs this). The acting is about as good as can be expected from a comedy like this, but the important thing is that all the characters have flavor. Stevie Weeks (Ryan Northcott) is having sexual problems with his girlfriend, Skank (Ron Eldard) likes to sleep around, and Conner Banks (Michael Buie) is a hockey star/grocery clerk.
Of course, the best part about Mystery, Alaska is the comedy, and it has plenty of it. Colm Meaney always delivers a delightful performance, for one thing, but the majority of the humor just comes from situations. One guy goes prematurely on his girlfriend, another gets bashed over the head with a shovel, and stuff like that. It may sound sort of slapstick - which it is - but it works.
As for the hockey element, Mystery, Alaska has some pretty intense moments near the end. It might not be quite as magnificent as the flying V in The Mighty Ducks but still shows off some prowess and originality. A little more work could have been put into turning the New York Rangers into the bad guys, as their role seems undecided. Unlike the villainous team in The Mighty Ducks, the rivalry is kept strictly to the ice, and that might hurt the emotion of the game a little bit (however, New York fans, and probably the Rangers themselves wouldn't appreciate being cast as the enemy jerks).
Mystery, Alaska is 1999's The Mighty Ducks, delivering a funny, well-crafted cast and some cool hockey moments.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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