Mystery Men (1999)
Plot: A group of wanna be super heroes must rescue Champion City’s greatest hero, Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear), from the diabolical super villain Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush) who plans to destroy the city in this comedic/parody superhero adventure.
There are a lot of great ideas and clever moments here, but the writing is pretty lazy for the most part going for easy and bland jokes. Fortunately, the cast is outstanding and really elevates the material. Everyone here brings their A-game. Ben Stiller. Hank Azaria. Jeneane Garofalo. William H. Macy. Greg Kinnear. Geoffrey Rush. If the movie didn’t have this cast, it could have been a disaster. Everyone has great chemistry together, and they have to deliver bad puns (which are intentional) but they make it work. Special props to Paul Reubens who is forced to play a super farter, but he makes it bearable and sometimes even funny. That’s pretty impressive. The first twenty minutes is pretty strong, but the novelty of this idea wears thin. The middle is lack luster, which leads me to the biggest complaint is that the film is way too long. This could have seriously been edited. This idea would probably work better as a Saturday Night Live skit; it really didn’t need to be two hours long. There’s a lot of repetitive and pointless banter between the characters that just doesn’t need to be there. I did mention clever moments. I love the villainous group, the Frat Boys. That’s funny. The Invisible Boy and how he turns invisible is pretty smart. Ben Stiller does his Ben Stiller thing, and it’s very strong here as Mr. Furious. I love when he ‘transforms’ and screams at the top of his lungs. When they hold try-outs for new superheroes, I have to say, and sorry to the women reading this, the PMS Avenger was pretty damn hilarious. So that’s Mystery Men. The cast really carries mediocre to bad material making this an okay film. Although watching it pissed me off because it reminded of how often the Smash Mouth song ‘All-Star’ played on the radio in the late 90’s. Yea…remember that terrible piece of garbage? Ugh.
Rating: 6.5 out of 10 (Slightly better than ‘meh’)
Category Rankings (Spoilers Throughout)
Best Performance: William H. Macy as The Shoveler
-He’s fantastic in this. Macy takes the role so seriously, but hits everyone of his line’s out of the park. He’s the heart of this movie and also really funny.
Worst Performance: Wes Studi as the Sphinx
-This character sucks and Studi’s performance sucked. He has the worse long running joke in the film. The whole gimmick is that his wisdom is always inverted at the end like this: “To learn my teachings, I must first teach you how to learn.” They do call him out on this and the movie recognizes what it’s doing, but it’s just not funny. And it’s relentless, it doesn’t stop. The actor is sub-par which makes me think if they mis-casted on any of these roles, it could have been ugly.
Best Line: “God gave me a gift. I shovel well…I shovel very well.” –The Shoveler to his wife.
-I think the line speaks for itself.
Worst Line: “I say what the fork…Let’s do it!” –Blue Raja
-Yes, his character throws forks. I know the puns are supposed to be bad, but I can’t accept this one.
-The Shoveler has a pretty good fight with one of the Disco Boys. The icing on the cake is when he loses his shovel but blocks an attack with a surprise mini shovel!
-I’m going to complain more about the Sphinx. He can rip guns in half with his mind, but throughout the rest of the movie he doesn’t do anything. He goes on all the missions with these guys, but just stands there spouting bad lines. What a useless character.
-This is a very subtle one, but it’s when Captain Amazing and his publicist are just sitting in the limo talking. They chat about how Captain Amazing is losing endorsements because he’s put all the big name villains away. Captain Amazing asks about Death Man and the Publicist replies, “Death Man is dead.” That’s genius.
-There’s a part where a skunk starts humping the Spleen’s leg. Get it, because the Spleen farts a lot and so the skunk likes him. Yea, this scene was dipping kind of low.
-The Blue Raja trying to fork Casanova’s Frankenstein’s limo was a sight to see. Hank Azaria’s look of intensity also added to the humor.
Bad Ass Moment:
-When the Bowler throws her magical bowling ball down the shaft of Frankenstein’s ultimate weapon, it absolutely tears this thing apart. That was pretty cool. And plus bowling in general is awesome, so there you go.