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By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Directed by Jay Roach
Hollywood Pictures Home Video 10/99 DVD/VHS Feature Film
R - language, sexuality
Amateur sports are theaters where ordinary people have a chance to do extraordinary things together. They are regular rituals that enable team members to transcend the differences and disagreements they might harbor outside the game. That is the hub of this drama directed by Jay Roach and written by David E. Kelley (Ally McBeal, The Practice) and Sean O'Byrne.
The men of Mystery, Alaska, play hockey every Saturday on a pond. This recreational team's anchor is John Biebe (Russell Crowe), who happens to be the town's sheriff. Other players include a grocer (Michael Buie), the community's playboy (Ron Eldard), and a talented high school senior (Ryan Northcott). When Charlie Danner (Hank Azaria), an ex-resident of the town, writes a cover story on the team for Sports Illustrated, the National Hockey League schedules an exhibition game between the New York Rangers and the boys from Alaska. The mayor (Colm Meaney), the judge (Burt Reynolds), and a lawyer (Maury Chaykin), who is the town's biggest booster, all do their best to make sure the event takes place.
This entertaining drama shows how the game draws out the best in these men from Mystery. While sports may well be the toy department of life, hanging out there is often what creates and sustains community.
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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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