Is it just me, or do David E. Kelley’s feature scripts feel like discarded ideas for television pilots? The Emmy-anointed “King of TV” gives us another set of quirky characters in this film’s titular town where the only thing to do is play hockey. Population 633, there’s not much else, but the players in the weekly matches on the perpetually frozen pond are pretty good. When ex-resident Charlie Danner (Hank Azaria) writes a cover story for “Sports Illustrated”, it’s not a secret anymore.
Soon after, Charlie comes back to town with an offer from the NHL for a televised local match with the New York Rangers. The town accepts, but the stress nearly tears the place apart. How’s a team led by the town sheriff (Russell Crowe), a grocery clerk (Michæl Buie), and a high-school senior (Ryan Northcott) that play for fun going to do against a bunch of hardened pros? And would you believe it? Danner is still in love with his high-school girlfriend, not the wife of the sheriff!
I believe director Jay Roach actually shot this fluff between the two “Austin Powers” movies, and Mike Meyers even cameos as an ex-pro providing color commentary at the game. Is it memorable? No. Is it competent and entertaining? Yes. It would be nice, though, if films like this and “Lake Placid” felt like something more than proposed TV projects that writer/producer Kelley passed over to make “Snoops”.