In order to generate more endorsement revenue, Champion City's resident superhero Captain Amazing arranges for the release of supervillain Casanova Frankenstein, only to be captured by him. The city's fate rests in the hands of seven loser superhero wannabes: the spoon-flinging Blue Rajah, the shovel-wielding Shoveler, the possessed bowling ball-hurling Bowler, the flatulent Spleen, the only-when-nobody's-looking Invisible Boy, the mysterious Sphinx, and the perpetually-angry Mr. Furious. Written by
Jeff Cross <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Director Kinka Usher stays true to his own credo, "Play it straight and they will laugh," and with the help of a superb cast has crafted what should become the #1 cult film of all time, `Mystery Men.' When an evil villain, Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush) is released from a mental institution, captures the local superhero, Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear), and threatens to take over Champion City, three wanna-be superheroes, Mr. Furious (Ben Stiller), The Shoveler (William H. Macy) and The Blue Raja (Hank Azaria) come to the rescue. Frankenstein has been joined by a myriad assortment of underworld scum, however, and has become a formidable opponent. The trio realize that help is needed, and decide to recruit; what they end up with is nothing less than the most unforgettable team of `superheroes' ever assembled in the history of the cinema. Mr. Furious has his rage; The Shoveler, his shovel; The Blue Raja flings silverware (mainly forks, and the occasional spoon, but never a knife); the Invisible Boy (Kel Mitchell) can turn invisible as long as no one is watching; the Sphinx (Wes Studi), a heavy hitter from down south, is very mysterious and can break guns in half with his mind. Maybe; the Bowler (Janeane Garofalo) can fling a ball with deadly accuracy; and The Spleen (Paul Reubens) wields flatulence that can incapacitate an entire room. This is a brilliant ensemble piece that delivers the laughs without ever becoming condescending or patronizing the audience, while playing it straight at all times. The dialogue is witty, and the performances given by Stiller, Macy, Azaria and Garofalo are exemplary. There is a number of memorable, hilarious scenes, especially the one in which they throw a pool party and barbecue to recruit, and conduct interviews with a stupefying assemblage of applicants; and another, in a bar, when the Bowler has a conversation with her long-dead father, whose skull has been implanted in her bowling ball. The funniest of all, however, has to be when the team actually attempts to rescue Captain Amazing. But these are only examples, for the entire movie is composed of one hilarious scene after another, laced with subtle humor that will keep you laughing and thinking about it for a long time. The real secret of it's success, though, is that Usher keeps it all real; the relationships between the characters are true, and the whole concept of being a `Superhero' is played as being entirely reasonable, which somehow gives a sense of credibility to the entire proceedings. In this world, the aspirations of Mr. Furious and the rest are tenable, and Usher keeps the laughs coming without ever resorting to slapstick or mere sight gags. The solid supporting cast includes Lena Olin (Dr. Annabel Leek), Eddie Izzard (Tony P.), Tom Waits (Doc Heller), Claire Forlani (Monica), Louise Lasser (The Blue Raja's mother), Jenifer Lewis (Lucille) and Pras (Tony C.). `Mystery Men' is a truly inspired movie that can be seen over and over again, with a new chuckle to be had with every viewing, guaranteed. In the immortal words of the Sphinx, `We are number one! All others are number two, or lower.' Is it an Oscar-worthy movie? Hardly; but for a good time and a lot of laughs, treat yourself to this masterwork of comedy; it's the real deal, and you won't regret it. I rate this one 10/10.
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