Mystery Men

"Weak"

Mystery Men Review


If nothing else, "Mystery Men," a chaff on the "Batman"-style event movie, has impeccable timing. The unbridled superhero genre has never been more ripe for spoofing, and this picture has an superior satirical pedigree, what with its cast that includes those hippest heir apparents of comedy royalty, Ben Stiller and Janeane Garofalo.

Adapted from the Dark Horse comic book of the same name, the movie's protagonists are a sad sack band of part-time, wannabes heroes with monikers like The Shoveler (mild-mannered William H. Macy, donning a golden spade); the silverware-wielding Blue Raja (Hank Azaria, in a bad fortune-teller get-up); the Invisible Boy (Kel Mitchell), whose powers only work when no one is looking; The Spleen (Paul Rubens of "Pee-Wee" fame), who boasts near-lethal flatulence; The Bowler (Garofalo), whose translucent, supernatural ball contains her dead daddy's skull; and Mr. Furious (Stiller), whose alleged power is his violent and very short temper.

These not-so-super friends are called into action when Champion City's real savior -- a corporate sellout called Captain Amazing (a superbly conceited Greg Kinnear), whose rubbery costume is plastered with more ads than NASCAR jumpsuit -- is captured by the wildly nefarious, feral-eyed and disco-lovin' baddie Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush, on an all-you-can-eat scenery diet).

But even with a capriciously cornball story and such a delightfully demented cast, "Mystery Men" manages to miss its mark. After a solid hour of double-over laughs, first-time director Kinka Usher (the man behind the Taco Bell Chihuahua spots) drops the ball, allowing his riff on the Hollywood's most shameless commodity to become precisely what it set out to ridicule.

The last half of "Mystery Men" is conspicuously short on laughs (save an arsenal of Garofalo zingers), abandoning its sense of humor for an unnecessarily complicated, catch-phrase-crazy, guns-and-stunts-driven last act. After an over-long training sequence under the tutelage of an elder masked mentor called The Sphinx (Wes Studi), and a few arbitrary internal conflicts, these pawn shop heroes make an assault on Casanova's castle, trying their mettle and the audience's patience.

Its sad to see the way the picture unravels in the last hour after such a promising start. With so much talent on the screen, so many good, hard laughs (Captain Amazing has a publicist!) and such ironically handsome production design (Champion City is a slick, faux-futuristic mastermix of "Batman's" Gotham and "Blade Runner's" L.A.), I tried to find every way I could to like it.

But director Usher lost his way, gradually turning "Mystery Men's" mockery into unfortunate imitation.



Mystery Men

Facts and Figures

Run time: 121 mins

In Theaters: Friday 6th August 1999

Box Office Worldwide: $29.8M

Budget: $68M

Distributed by: Universal Pictures

Production compaines: Universal Pictures, Golar Productions, Dark Horse Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 60%
Fresh: 62 Rotten: 41

IMDB: 6.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as The Blue Raja, as The Bowler, William H. Macy as The Shoveler, as The Invisible Boy, as Lucille, as Mr. Furious, as Spleen, as Powerwoman, as Monica, as Sphinx, as Captain Amazing / Lance, as Casanova Frankenstein, as Dr. Anabel Leek, as Tony P, as Big Red, as Tony C, as Doc Heller, as Violet, as Vic Weems, Ernie Lee Banks as Ted, Gerry Becker as Banyon, as Funk, as Butch, as Roland, as Reporter

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

Advertisement
The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.