"Mystery, Alaska" is a modern, good old-fashioned, American feel-good movie, about a talented hockey team in a snowbound, Arctic Circle hamlet that gets to take on the New York Rangers in an NHL publicity stunt.
It's an obliging tweak on the traditional, triumphant underdog story, used as a backdrop for a delightful character dramedy that mixes tried-and-true with mordant-and-new -- like a frozen, Frank Capra-meets-Robert Altman, ensemble sports movie.
Written by Sean O'Byrne and David E. Kelley ("The Practice," "Ally McBeal," "Lake Placid"), and directed by Jay Roach (the "Austin Powers" movies), it's hard to not get caught up in the energetic spirit of this film from the opening shot, which zooms in on a lone figure, decked out in hockey gear and skating like the wind around icy Alaskan vistas while the soundtrack pumps with drum-driven, inspired determination music.
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The film is expected to continue without Mendes' involvement.