Monday, October 3, 2011

Mystery Men Review

Mystery Men (1999)

File:Mystery Men.jpg

I absolutely adore this movie. I adore this movie almost as much as I adore Zoolander, my other favourite Ben Stiller comedy. I know it's silly, but the concept of a renegade gang of superheroes with no powers is silly. By extension, the concept of Batman is silly. I love Batman, and I love the fact that Burton and Nolan took their Batman movies seriously, but a guy who dresses up like a bad and fights crime is inherently a silly concept. However, we aren't talking about Batman, we're talking about Mystery Men. There are many things I adore about this movie. I love the acting, I love Geoffrey Rush as the villain, I love the fact that it doesn't take itself too seriously until things do get serious at the end, and I love the disco-themed villain sidekicks.


Mystery Men is about a crime-fighting team that starts out as a trio. Roy, Eddie, and Jeff (Ben Stiller, William H. Macy, and Hank Azaria) are a well-meaning crime fighting trio, but they aren't exactly great at their jobs and they are overshadowed frequently by the city's top superhero, Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear). Captain Amazing has basically rid the city of crime and it's put him out of a job. He gets the not-so-bright idea of getting a notorious villain by the name of Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush) out of the city's insane asylum so he'll have someone to fight then. It's too bad that Casanova Frankenstein is much smarter than him and Amazing ends up tied to a machine that Casanova will use to kill him and wreak havoc upon the city.

The movie isn't about Captain Amazing though, it's about the Mystery Men (although they are never addressed as this at any time during the movie). The trio decides to expand and they recruit four new members. As well as the original three (who have the alter egos Mr Furious, The Shoveler, and The Blue Rajah, who's powers I will get into later), there is the Invisible Boy (Kel Mitchell) who can only be invisible when nobody is looking at him, there's The Spleen, who's powers ignite with one pull of the finger, The Bowler (Janeane Garofalo) who has a superpowered bowling ball with the skull of her dead father in it, and the Sphinx (Wes Studi), a walking metaphor-spewer who can cut guns in half with his mind. Mr Furious' power comes from his boundless rage (which mostly fails throughout the movie, causing Roy to have a crisis), the Shoveler has...well...a shovel, and the Blue Rajah is, in his own words, "a limey fork flinger" (although Azaria only speaks in an English accent as the Rajah, he talks in his actual voice when Jeff is talking to his mother). His costume also doesn't have a speck of blue on it.

With Captain Amazing out of the picture, Casanova intends to use one of his machines to wreak havoc upon the city, and it's up to the gang to stop them. The climax takes place in Casanova's mansion during a dinner party with all of his associate gangs. My favourite of all of these is the Disco Boys, Casanova's personal gang, lead by Tony P. (Eddie Izzard in a deliciously hammy performance) and Tony C (who doesn't really talk much). There's also a lady gang (not unlike the Fembots in the first Austin Powers movie), a rapping gang (featuring Cee Lo Green), a frat boy gang (with a covert cameo from Michael Bay), and a gang of businessmen. The gang defeats them in all sorts of hilarious ways and we also see Roy's true furious side come out when Casanova threatens his girlfriend (Claire Forlani, who plays a waitress that he attempts to flirt with throughout). Besides Roy getting a girlfriend, other details of the personal lives of the original trio, like Eddie's wife being worried about his crime-fighting, and the fact that Jeff lives with his mother and has to steal her forks for missions.

Now that we've got the story out of the way, I shall talk about how much I love this premise. Never before has a genre been killed so spectacularly as the spoof, what with the Seltzerberg works such as Date Movie, Epic Movie, or Scary Movie (and its many sequels). However, Mystery Men remains as one of the greatest spoofs ever made. It's not as good as the spoofs I have seen in the Mel Brooks collection, but Mystery Men is a damn fine one, affectionately poking at the superhero genre, and essentially doing what Kick-Ass did twelve years before, only Kick-Ass was considerably more violent and this one is more geared towards comedy than action. They make fun of the fact that the only thing that distinguished Captain Amazing from his secret identity, billionaire Lance Hunt is that Lance Hunt wears glasses (a clever reference to Superman).

The script is very well-written, but instead of yammering on and on about how great it is, I will present you with some of the best lines from it and let you see for yourself:

"What about.....Death Man"
"Death Man is dead"

"I... am the Waffler. With my griddle of justice, I BASH the enemy in the head, or I burn them like so! I also have some truth syrup, which is low in fat." (Dane Cook in a great cameo)

"It must have been hard for you Tony, all these years. All the people saying that disco is dead."
"Disco is NOT dead. Disco is LIFE!!"

(when trying to make Roy angry)
"Your penmanship is atrocious"
"You dress in the manner of a male prostitute"

Sound funny? That's only the tip of the iceberg. This is an incredibly hilarious movie and there are a lot of sight gags to go along with the great lines. The characters are fun, and I like that none of them have traditional powers. Well, technically speaking none of them have any powers, but the powers they give themselves are unique, like having the skull of your dead father in a superpowered bowling ball, or flinging forks. The dialogue would only be decent, however, if it weren't for the performances of its excellent cast. Ben Stiller, Hank Azaria, and William H. Macy are the original trio, and they all give affable and fun performances. The rest of the gang is great as well, my favourite out of the new additions being Janeane Garofalo followed by Paul Reubens (the man may be a perv, but he is funny). Greg Kinnear plays Captain Amazing as a total jackass, and that's what he's best as playing, so I guess he did well. My favourite performances out of all of them would have to be Geoffrey Rush as Casanova Frankenstein (hamming it up with the best of them) and Eddie Izzard as Tony (an equally excellent performance). I'd say that the film is watchable for them alone.

The action scenes are very cool, especially the one at the beginning and the awesome climax. Aside from that, there really isn't too much more to say, as I have said everything that I love about this movie. It may not be perfect, but Mystery Men is an extremely funny and extremely entertaining movie and it is definitely worth watching. I give it an extremely high recommendation for fans of superhero movies, silly comedies, and fans of any of the film's formidable actors. In fact, I would recommend it to anyone, especially those who probably wouldn't think much of it upon first glance. It has a great story, great jokes, and great performances from its excellent cast, making Mystery Men one of my favourite comedies of all time, and it's tied with Zoolander for my favourite comedy featuring Ben Stiller. I even find this to be a bit underrated, because most won't think much of this movie and just dismiss it as a stupid comedy, whereas it is so much more than that.

(I have decided to forgo the star system which I used in my other reviews in exchange for something a little different)

My Score:  8.3/10

1 comment:

  1. I havent seen this film in years. I recall it being quite great though, and I look forward to giving it another watch. Great review, Harley