Mystery, Alaska


Year 1999

Russell Crowe as   John Biebe
Hank Azaria as Charles Danner
Mary McCormack   as Donna Biebe
Burt Reynolds as Judge Walter Burns
Colm Meaney as Mayor Scott Pitcher  
Lolita Davidovich as Mary Jane Pitcher
Ron Eldard as "Skank" Marden
 
Director - Jay Roach
Screenwriters - David E. Kelley
  - Sean O'Byrne

A group of hockey players in a small town in Alaska take on the N.Y. Rangers. With that kind of a plot, you might think that Mystery, Alaska is guy friendly and would portray males in a good light. You'd be wrong. This is a chick flick where guys are lost, confused, and are lucky to be blessed by the company of women. Guys should get down on their stinking knees, in Alaska, in January, and kiss the ice that women slide around on. Although to be fair, nothing probably stinks that much in twenty below weather. I mean if it stinks...on ice, then it really stinks.

For starters, you'd think with a title like Mystery, Alaska, that there might be something mysterious going on. I mean there is no place named Mystery, Alaska so you've got to figure that the name was chosen for a better reason than, "Let's name it something cool, like 'Mystery'." Let's see. What's mysterious about the city? The fact that there's 12 hours of daylight somewhere north of Fairbanks, Alaska in late December is one for the ages. There are less than four, count them, four, hours of sunlight during the time of year that this movie supposedly takes place.

And even though it's twenty below outside, people open doors and keep them open as if it's seventy-two outside. No one breathes smoke no matter how cold the weather is. And locals carry on as if the temperature doesn't matter. Temperature DOES matter. Having spent my fair share of winters in Maine, I can tell you that temperature DOES matter. Maybe that's the mystery. Why aren't these people affected by the cold?

Got a cliché? Know of one? This movie probably incorporates it. You've got your:

The only things missing are someone sabotaging the game, someone dying during the game, and blacks being represented. (Yes, there are black ice hockey players. I seem to recall that there may have even been brothers playing on Canadian teams back in the late 80s. Look up black hockey brothers on Google and Google thinks the words "black" and "brothers" are redundant. <sigh>) Otherwise, I think they've got all of the bases covered (to mix in a baseball metaphor for you.)

To make up for this lack of every imaginable cliché being included, the writers added a few politically correct stereotypes to compensate. For example, for some reason, the team needed a name so someone chose Eskimos. Now why the team needed a name can only be answered by saying one of the writers wanted to be cool and edgy and introduce the "hot topic" of sport team mascots. There's no other explanation as to why the name Eskimos needed to be introduced in the film.

But introducing the word Eskimo managed to show off the depth of the writer's knowledge regarding the need to be all touchy-feely about testosterone. How deep is the writer's understanding? About shoe top deep if it's raining cats and dogs. You see, in the movie the preferred name for the indigenous race is Innuit. That's like saying that Irishmen preferred being called English. The Innuit are a tribe and they're not even the only tribe of Eskimos living in Alaska. As for being indigenous, they invaded North America and took out the people who were ahead of them so they aren't native to Alaska. And the people who were there ahead of them had to come from Asia, too. In fact, there are NO indigenous people in North America. There are first settlers, but they weren't indigenous. But it's politically correct and acceptable (even in Alaskan law) to misuse the English language and the writers needed to be all PC regardless of facts.

"All PC, Joe?" Yes, ALL freakin' PC. To the point where the men in the movie need to be emasculated. Everything from dangerous flirtations and actually being cuckholded all the way to getting hit in the crotch with a 90 m.p.h. puck are paraded around throughout the movie. I don't think that calling the treatment of men in the movie emasculating is too exaggerated. Heck, one character, the one who stopped a puck with his manhood, is actually called "skank". Seriously, a derisive word applied exclusively towards women is used to refer to a guy. This is acceptable how?

I don't even think the most effeminate of gays is ever referred to as a skank. But in this "edgy" movie, a guy is.

Then there's the cuckholding. The mayor finds out this his wife has been unfaithful to him. She's been with another guy in their bed. Even the sleaziest people I know wouldn't do that. The living room, the kitchen, the carport, are all good. But never the guy's bed!

This is acceptable in the movie, however. And the wife's reason? "You don't touch me any more." What? Guys! Here's the scenario. You gave a girl a hug and your mate detects her perfume on your clothing. You tell her, "You don't touch me any more and I needed a hug." A hug, mind you, nothing more.

Guess who's out in the street? And this is just punishment for a hug.

Suppose this hug turned into a rut. If you're dumb enough to stay with your spouse after she finds out about the tryst, then expect to be treated like John Wayne Bobbitt.

Now I've heard time and again from a number of women that they need feeling for the Big Thrill to occur. Women are not like guys who think that watching the wind blow clothes hanging on the line to dry is justification for arousal. No. Women need the mental connection as well as the physical.

Except in this movie. Women, at least the adultress, is no better than a male in heat and any sex is better than no sex. Based on women that I have known, this is a wrong characterization. In the movie, the guy forgives her and they get back together.

Now I can understand getting back together. I can't understand the reason for her transgression and her lack of contrition. The writers would have us believe that her adultery was her husband's fault, not hers. He didn't touch her and she needed to be touched. He deserved to be betrayed in his own bed and she's does not need to apologize for satisfying HER needs.

What's up with women cheating on guys all of the time in movies? Guys don't cheat on women any more. Guys apologize as if it's their fault when their women cheat on them. I've always believed that guys will hit on anything. It's what guys do. It's up to the women to say, "No." If they don't say no then they're the guilty party. And any guy who hits on a married women deserves a sock on the jaw.

There's a scene where Russell Crowe's character crosses out words in a Dear Abby column leaving only those words that are in some way endearing or are referring to his feeling about his wife. How silly and insipid. But his wife thinks this is wonderful and follows him outside where they engage in some heavy petting in twenty below weather. Yes, you read that right. Think of Flick in A Christmas Story and tell me what should have happened to their tongues in twenty below. ("I'm not a great lover, I'm frozen stiff.")

This was almost in the Nasty category because it's loosely based on some vague 1905 Stanley Cup game. But, the acting is good despite the lunacy of material.

There's even about twenty minutes of hockey in the movie. And it's often reasonable hockey.

I've seen this called a "feel good" movie. To me, a feel good movie involves people you care about. It's about the underdog that wins out. It's about individuals banding together to overcome tremendous odds. Rudy was a feel good movie. Rockywas a feel good movie. The Mighty Ducks was nearly a feel good movie. Animal House was a feel good movie. Insipid, Alaska is not a feel good movie.

Insipid, Alaska is a failed attempt to write a feel good movie and the reasons for the failure were lack of originality, failure to remain focused on hockey, and bringing in non-essential politically correct sensitive males of 90s horsepucky.

No nudity but there is profanity. There's major chick flick potential here. But it's a castrating experience for a guy, so don't bother.


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