A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie has very strong and very vivid language, including locker-room style descriptions of sex, a child's use of four-letter words played for humor, a wounded man's use of very strong language played for humor, a character who has casual sex with almost every woman he meets (and who apologizes to the husband of one of them, with no suggestion that this might make the woman seem like property), explicit depictions of sexual encounters, including one between teens, and some violence (punched noses, semi-accidental shooting resulting in minor injury). The teen girl says that she wants to have sex because she's afraid of losing her boyfriend, which parents may want to discuss. The boy makes it clear that he's perfectly comfortable with waiting and doesn't want to do it for that reason. They then go ahead, but aren't able to complete the act, which causes great feelings of insecurity for both of them. Her mother, though clearly uncomfortable, responds with sympathy and support.
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What's the story?
In MYSTERY ALASKA, a small, hockey-worshipping town gets a chance to play the New York Rangers. Prodigal son Charles Danner (Hank Azaria), now a big city writer, attracts the Rangers with his article about the weekly game in Mystery, Alaska. The local judge (Burt Reynolds) cautions against it, but the citizens can't resist their chance at the big time. Local sheriff John Biebe (Russell Crowe), dropped from the team to make room for a high school student who skates like a rocket, agrees to coach. Everyone has issues to resolve – the judge is harsh and rigid, the high school kid and his girlfriend are exploring sex, the coach is also dealing with marital problems, the town lothario (Ron Eldard) is in hot water, a huge chain store is threatening local businesses, and those Rangers look awfully big up close.
Is it any good?
Mystery Alaskais a basic Rocky movie and a grown-up version of The Mighty Ducks. There's the basic redemption through sports plot, a loveable character's death, the healing of old wounds, important lessons of teamwork and pride, endearingly quirky players, resolved family problems, a young player just beginning and an older one about to hang up his skates, and at least one speech about how our guys don't play for money, they play for the love of the game!
Not that there's anything wrong with that. The reason that formulas endure is that they usually work, as long as the details are all right, it's not overtly manipulative, and nothing interferes with our ability to suspend disbelief. And here the details are pretty good, especially the feel of the remote, snowy town, where kids skate the river and make out in snowplows and everyone attends the weekly hockey game. And there are fine ensemble performances. The hockey game is pretty good, too. And there are a couple of very funny guest cameos to pick things up near the end.
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