Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mystery, Alaska | The ALASKAthon

-Note!- My blind spot entry for this month will be posted on, as was last months (12 Angry Men). I want to get used to and make you get used to my blind spot entries and possible (mini) reviews appearing on that platform. Just wanted to make sure you know.

Even though it should be the cinephile's highest aim to be able to approach each genre and subgenre without prejudice, we all have our own little preferences when it comes to the films we watch. Last year, I started keeping a diary on what decades I watch most films from and what suffer most of my ignorant teenage - of course I found my viewing habits concentrated on the last 5 or so centuries. With the 2000s and 2010s taking a lead that is much too strong in my eyes. But it's not only that (sub-contious) skirting of old films that dictates my film viewing habits - much more prominently and, I have to admit, self-consciously, I omit war and sports films.

My main problem with sports films is that I'm not generally the biggest sports fan. Sure, I have no problem with a game of soccer with friends now and then or watching parts of the Olympics or the World Cup - but that's where it ends. I chose ballroom dance and later ballet and a bit of swimming as my personal sports, and trying to understand the complicated rules of something like Cricket (seriously, I hate Indian films for taking general Cricket knowledge for granted) or Baseball is not what I consider a fun evening. Another problem is that sports films tend to go very heavy on elements like patriotism and pathos, which I can't stand for long periods of time. They're also often constructed the same way, focussing on the sport itself instead of the characters - the latter exemplifying what I would call a good sports movie.

Mystery, Alaska tries to be a mixture of both - it takes hockey seriously but also constructs an ensemble of interesting characters. Well, sort of. Russel Crowe takes the lead as small town Mystery's sheriff, who is also the oldest member in the local hockey team. A lot of unknown actors play the other members, most of them having trouble in their love life/ marriage. Some of them are old, others are young. The team has to play a big match against the New York hockey team. It all works out in the end.

It's not that I dislike simple stories - Gravity is the proof - but Mystery, Alaska is as big a cliché of a "heart-warming film for the whole family" that my currently graduated and by now restless mind can not stand at this moment. As always, the Alaskan setting is breath-taking and in this case very cute - houses made of wood are still the best - but that's not really enough to make almost 2 hours of my life more interesting than if I were reading Jane Eyre (which is awesome, by the way). Russel Crowe has been much more annoying but also much better - and his Irish accent really doesn't fit into the setting - and sports films have been more boring but also much more intriguing. I have even disliked films in the Alaskathon more (Wendy and Lucy), but unfortunately for this one, most of the others were much better.

Mystery, Alaska is nowhere as mysterious or original as its title suggests and is as far from indie as James Cameron. It's rarely funny and much too dramatic at most times, including its score. Basically, it is as meh as meh gets.


How capturing/ engaging/ interesting is the film? (out of 5 northern lights)

How gorgeous does the film - or the Alaska in it - look? (out of 5x Timothy Treadwell's hair)

How much does the film itself make you want to go to Alaska? (out of 5 sledges)

1999 • Canada/ USA • English

director Jay Roach
writers David E. Kelley, Sean O'Byrne
★ Russel Crowe, Burt Reynolds


  1. For what it's worth: I tend to like both sports movies and David E. Kelley's writing, but this movie was just okay in my opinion.

    In regards to your Alaskathon posts, if you don't already plan to include it then I highly recommend Charlie Chaplin's The Gold Rush (1925).

    1. Thanks for visiting, Chip! What a coincidence - the next I'm watching is The Gold Rush. The next post, however, will be on Alone In the Wilderness (2003), I just haven't finished writing it yet.

      There are some good sports movies, I even love a few of them, but generally they're not my kind of thing. I haven't seen anything else by David E. Kelley, it seems he writes a lot of tv shows which are generally hard to catch up on for me. But I'll keep an eye out for more of his work.


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