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the previews for the movie are pretty good .
they show a little plot , all the characters , and the emotional highlights , all spliced together to give a general impression of the script .
unfortunately , the full movie adds nothing but 115 minutes .
the residents of mystery love hockey .
mystery and hockey go together like texas and high school football .
the townsfolk love hockey so much that they even acquit a player who's guilty of shooting another man ( yes , that's one of the movie's jokes . )
every saturday , the best players pair off for a game , and the whole town comes to watch .
the town's prodigal son charlie ( hank azaria ) wrote an article on the weekly game for sports illustrated .
mystery's national fame has the town abuzz .
a week later , charlie actually shows up in person , and he brings with him an offer from the nhl .
the new york rangers will come to mystery to play the locals .
the mysterians see this as both good and bad .
on the one hand , they'd love to have the fame and the money of such an exhibition .
on the other hand , they don't want to turn up as the butt of leno and letterman jokes .
the movie follows a handful of lives that are affected by the proposition .
biebe ( russell crowe ) has just been retired from the team and is asked to coach the boys , including his new replacement .
he's already resentful , and to top it off charlie has been making eyes at his wife .
crowe is not given a lot of room to act in this film , so he's just kind of stuck with constantly brooding .
charlie , meanwhile , is resentful of having born in a town where hockey is the only measure of a man's worth .
his " gift " of the feature story , and of the new york rangers , was his way of compensating for not being a better skater .
he hoped it would earn him some respect and merit , but the townspeople find reasons to continue disliking him .
burt reynolds could have been interesting as walter , the judge whose courtroom was befouled by a moronic jury of hockey fans .
walter actually has some experience with collegiate hockey , but he actively tries to put it behind him .
he wants his son to take the game more seriously , but he wants his community to just get over it .
reynolds could have been good , but sloppy writing and/or editing keep walter in the corner , and so reynolds never really gets to pull his performance all together .
one character actually was interesting .
biebe's wife ( mary mccormack ) , like the judge , understood that there was more to life than hockey .
but unlike him she has come to accept the skewed view of the community .
she chose the town and her husband with her eyes wide open .
her unique insight is verbalized once , and it lasts only a scene before it is gone , but her performance carries the hint of some deeper wisdom .
mysterty , alaska follows a handful of other characters , but none are well developed or worth mentioning .
the biggest problem with this movie is that there is no real heart to the story , no underlying thing that the movie is really about .
instead , roach and screenwriters david e . kelley and sean o'byrne try to cram the entire human condition into this sports comedy .
they try to make you laugh and cry , to feel outrage and pride .
they present the framing and cadence for jokes , but there's nothing truly funny .
they show appropriately staged scenes of sadness , but they give you nothing to be really sad about .
as columnist molly ivins would say , it's all hat , no cattle .
the perfect opportunity arises for roach to say what this movie is really about .
there is a funeral scene , played with appropriate gravity and somber music .
it is a chance for the characters to reflect on their lives and decide what's truly important .
russell crowe steps forward to speak , about to spell out the movie's metaphor for us .
he says that what really matters in life is " community . . . . "
then adds " and hockey . "
i guess these mysterians really are as shallow as they appear .
only mildly bad , mystery , alaska probably deserves 2 stars .
i even laughed out loud , genuine laughs in places .
but i docked it an extra half star when mike myers , a friend of roach , turned up in a role that didn't suit him .
myers is a comic character actor .
he puts on masks , becomes an outrageous caricature , and is funny .
he's great as austin powers , dr . evil , or any of his scottish characters .
nobody else in mysterty , alaska is a comic caricature .
all the other people have the feel of dramatic characters in semi-serious roles .
for roach to bring in myers for a few cheap laughs shows incredible contempt toward the rest of his cast , toward his audience , and indeed toward the film itself .
it's an acknowledgment by the director that the film is not worth taking seriously .
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