Mystery Men (1999) Poster

(1999)

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9/10
Extremely Underrated
schadenfreude71417 March 2005
I saw "Mystery Men" on my birthday in 1999 while I was away on vacation. When I came back home, I went to see it again. Keep in mind, I was twelve, but at that time it was the coolest movie ever. I even collected the ultra-rare action figures (I have them all except for the Bowler, which is the hardest to find. They made Mr. Furious, The Shoveler, The Blue Raja, The Spleen and Captain Amazing, in case your wondering. There IS a William H. Macy action figure in existence!). I've watched it many times over the years and it still remains a favorite of mine, due mostly to fond childhood memories. It's not a perfect movie, but it definitely deserves another look and perhaps a cult following.

The story: a bunch of low-level superheroes save the day. This was executed again in the mediocre, direct-to-video "The Specials" as well. But this is the other end of the spectrum: big budget (huge budget, almost $100 Million I think) studio comedy. Yes, the effects are overblown and the huge sets and wonderful production design are a bit much considering the plot. But don't think this as a stupid, special effects-y superhero movie--it's a PARODY. They fight a villain named Cassanova Frankenstein, people. He has a psychofrakulator, whatever that is (it's a doomsday device, he'll take over the world, yada yada.) And resident superhero Captain Amazing (a Zapp Brannigan-esque Greg Kinnear, with commercial-product-logos on his costume, nice touch) is kidnapped. Time for the Mystery Men: Mr. Furious (Ben Stiller, gets mad), The Shoveller (William H. Macy, beats people with shovels), The Blue Raja (Hank Azaria, British, throws forks), The Bowler (Janeane Garafolo, bowls), Invisible Boy (Kel Mitchell, guess what he does), The Spleen (the great Paul Reubens, farts), and The Sphinx (Wes Studi, cuts guns in half with his mind, I am not kidding). The rest of the fantastic cast of character actors includes Geoffrey Rush as Cassanova, Lena Olin heavily edited out as Cassanova's bride, and the one and only Tom Waits as a crazy weapons dealer. So...with Macy, Kinnear, Olin, and Rush there are four Oscar-nominees (and one winner) and Tom freakin' Waits! It's not perfect though. It's overlong and there are some gushes of corniness here and there (The Shoveller's full of them).

The dialogue definitely outweighs the physical comedy, which is sometimes lacking (there's a guy who farts for his power, case closed). The dialogue is definitely a highlight, the cyclical ramblings of the Sphinx, the mixed metaphors of Mr. Furious, etc. It's downright a funny movie, (it will almost make you forget that this was the film that let "All Star" by Smashmouth out into the world.)

Unfortunately, the film did not do as well with critics and audiences as it should have. A sequel was originally planned (the film is in fact based on a comic book and characters from "The Flaming Carrot" comics. The Flaming Carrot was planned for the sequel I believe) but this did not do well at the box office. It could have been a hard sell, a superhero comedy with the guy from "There's Something About Mary." It also could have been the fact that it was released on the same day as "The Sixth Sense"--which ended up being the biggest hit for the month of August--as well as "The Thomas Crown Affair." Two other misunderstood classics were released on the same crowded weekend, oddly enough--"Dick" and "The Iron Giant." Critics gave MM passable reviews, but it was quickly forgotten. Sadly enough, on Comedy Central's Roast of Jerry Stiller, comedian Jeffrey Ross commented to Ben Stiller that, "I saw 'Mystery Men' and I fired MY agent." Ben is then seen to mouth the words, "I should have to." Don't listen to him. Give "Mystery Men" a chance.
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9/10
Great fun
bdiebold4 July 2002
This movie is a lot of fun. What makes it great especially are two things: one is the straightforward way the characters embrace the stereotypes, with discussions of their costumes and superpowers. There's an endearing earnestness to the parody that's very appealing; the second is basic sweetness of the characters and the quality of the chemistry. Claire Forlani deserves particular note as the object of Mr. Furious's desires. There's a boatload of talent here. I realize some with high expectations may have been disappointed, but this movie is a lot of fun, and kind of sweet.
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8/10
Good for laughs, and superhero fans...
WillPowerATL27 July 1999
As a comic book reader, who still sees myself as a total kid at heart, I admit I might have been a bit biased towards this movie. I mean, there hasn't been a good superhero movie out for quite some time (NOTE: Batman Forever was NOT a good superhero movie). I really wanted this film to be good, and unlike most of my recent trips to the cinema (read Blair Witch Project) I wasn't disappointed.

Mystery Men was definitely not a high-effects, tension-filled action flick, it was a comedy. And on that basis, it was a success. It had everyone in the small theater laughing, and got applause and laughs right through the final scene. Stiller and Garofolo are hilarious together, as always, and Azaria adds just the right touch of craziness. William H. Macy plays a great straight man, while Kel Mitchell and the fart-powered Paul Rubens are added just to keep the kiddies happy.

Though the sets are bizarre (and at times seem like ripoffs from both Batman and Blade Runner), and some of the jokes are obvious, it is still just plain funny. There are some lines that will catch even the most jaded viewer off-guard, and bring tears from the belly-laughers among us.

I definitely recommend this movie. Although not an all-time classic, it is twice as funny as the latest Austin Powers retread. The writing is good, and the cast is GREAT. If you're worried, plan on the matinee and pay less, but either way you'll be pleasantly surprised. I mean, who among us doesn't root for the losers once in a while?
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An extremely underrated film
holme-121 June 2002
I thought this movie was hilarious when I first saw it and even bought it. I'm surprised that there is so much controversy over this film, because everyone did great performances, especially Ben Stiller as Mr. Furious. Quotes like "I need a compass to show me which way the wind shines." are just a small fraction of the hilarity in this film.

Grade: A+(One of my favorite comedies of all time)
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10/10
True Crime Fighters, Call Them What You Will
jhclues6 July 2000
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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9/10
LOVED it.
marshmellowDIE30 June 2005
This movie was a brilliant concept. It was original, cleverly written and of high appeal to those of us who aren't really 'conformist' movie pickers. Don't get me wrong - there are some great movies that have wide appeal, but when you move into watching a movie based on "everyone else is watching it" - you know you're either a tween or don't really have an opinion. This had a lovely subtle humor - despite most people probably looking only at the obvious. The actors portrayed their characters with aplomb and I thought there was a lot more "personal" personality in this film. Has appeal for kids, as well as adults. Esp. nice to find a good movie that's not filled with sexual references and drug innuendos! A great film, not to be overlooked based on public consumption. This one is a must buy.
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10/10
We quote lines from this gem all the time!
salshortt3 February 2002
Mystery Men is one of those movies that gets funnier over time. There is a naive innocence and "niceness" to the characters. It has become part of our family "culture," and we quote the characters often. It is my favorite film of the last two years. My kids are 13 and 11 and we all three love this film. Great acting and comedy. We love Galaxy Quest and Monty Python flicks too. Okay, we're not talking intellectual here, just Family bonding!
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8/10
A Hoot!
poetbard21 August 2005
Forget depth of meaning, leave your logic at the door, and have a great time with this maniacally funny, totally absurdist, ultra-campy live-action "cartoon". MYSTERY MEN is a send-up of every superhero flick you've ever seen, but its unlikely super-wannabes are so interesting, varied, and well-cast that they are memorable characters in their own right. Dark humor, downright silliness, bona fide action, and even a touching moment or two, combine to make this comic fantasy about lovable losers a true winner. The comedic talents of the actors playing the Mystery Men -- including one Mystery Woman -- are a perfect foil for Wes Studi as what can only be described as a bargain-basement Yoda, and Geoffrey Rush as one of the most off-the-wall (and bizarrely charming) villains ever to walk off the pages of a Dark Horse comic book and onto the big screen. Get ready to laugh, cheer, and say "huh?" more than once.... enjoy!
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10/10
gets better with age
kyle-15130 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This is a great movie. I love it more each time i watch. Most comedies can get pretty lame because you know all the gags, but mystery men has so much integrity in the writing and characterization that watching once again -- as Ben Stiller tears at the hood ornament of the limo, or Hank Azaria says good-bye to Louise Lasser, or Geoffrey Rush flashes his fuhrer choreography, or Tom Waits mumbles while he watches the news report, or Janeane Garofalo refuses a kiss from Paul Reubens -- is a pleasure. This is pitch perfect ensemble acting. The story develops directly and consistently, the action sequences are creative and not too dominant, all the set-ups payoff by the end. Seriously, if you've seen it and it's been a while, watch it again, and if you haven't then get started. You can't watch it again until you've seen it the first time. (Wes Studi, William H. Macy, the tryouts scene. Too much good stuff!)
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9/10
Who Says Superheroes Have To Be Super?
EmperorNortonII5 September 2003
In the history of movies based on comic books, "Mystery Men" is one of the most underrated ones. This is no regular comic superhero movie! It follows the exploits of a motley crew of well-meaning wannabes, which include Mr. Furious (played by Ben Stiller), the Bowler (Janeane Garofalo), the Shoveller (William H. Macy), the Blue Rajah (Hank Azariah) and the Spleen (Paul Reubens). "Mystery Men" spoofs several aspects of superhero movies like "Superman" or "Batman," such as the pithy sayings, and the questions about secret identities. Most of the superheroes aren't billionaires like Bruce Wayne, but blue-collar types with menial jobs and neurotic home lives. So it looks as if director Kinka Usher is making the heroes into something the average viewer can relate to. I found "Mystery Men" to be visually stimulating and very funny. Even if it doesn't turn into a franchise, it's still a joy to watch!
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9/10
Fun send-up of comic superheroes
Sean Gallagher10 August 1999
Though I can't claim to be a comic book fanatic, I have read my share, so I guess I'm part of the audience of this film, and I wasn't disappointed. It does run out of steam near the end, it's almost overflowing with ideas, and it seems like Lena Olin, one of my favorite actresses, was left on the cutting room floor. Also, a little of Hank Azaria's Blue Raja can go a long way. Still, it's easy to forgive all of these faults when you have a film which is this much fun. All the actors seem to be having a blast with their roles, especially William H. Macy as the straight-arrow Shoveler, and Janeane Garofalo as The Bowler. And unlike some, I found the design of the city to make the joke even funnier. I also liked how disco was the music of choice of the bad guys; somehow, it seemed appropriate.
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10/10
Great fun and too bad it didn't do better
Stevezilla196112 May 2006
This movie deserved better It's great fun, has some wonderful jokes and sight gags, some in-stuff for the "Geeks" amongst us (And we know who we are), and the effects are indeed effectual. Watching Paul Reubens fart in the face of an Academy Award winner is worth the price of admission alone. I never read the comics series before I saw the movie, but have since. as good as they are, I still recommend MM the film. (Although having the Flaming Carrot as a character would have been cool, too) Greg Kinnear is, well,...amazing as Captain Amazing, and NO ONE ELSE could be The Shoveller except William H. Macy My favorite line in the film? "We've got a blind date with Destiny. And it looks like she's ordered the lobster." See this film. BUY this film! It's only 5 bucks and some change at your local Wal-Mart. You'll thank me. Really you will. Oh, and Ms. Garafolo is in it. THAT ALONE makes it watch-worthy
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10/10
Many rich textures
bdx35 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Besides being fun to watch, 'Mystery Men' is a tasty treat for the senses. I think you have to just sit back for this one and take in the chartreuse blouses, elderly synchronized dancing, defraculation, disco happening music and gratuitous terrible foreign accents to truly appreciate the greatness of this film.

The actors take a funny premise and execute their roles with a particular zest. The writing is uniquely humorous - replete with blamethrowing, Son of Pencilhead, The Bowler's Daughter et al. It also includes one of the most absurd action lines ever uttered by a superhero.

This film appeals to a certain part of the brain that not everybody has. But if you like to see bad done well this is it.
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7/10
Some very funny writing
Eric Jorgenson1 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I really didn't expect much from this movie, but it wasn't bad; actually it was quite good. This movie contained a couple of the funniest bits of writing I have ever seen from a motion picture. Now am not saying this is one of the funniest movies of all time, but I laughed pretty hard at some parts. "The police ruled my father's death a suicide. They said he fell down an elevator shaft. Onto some bullets". Now this movie is not for everybody, its mostly stupid humor like Zoolander or Dodgeball; so if you hated these movies I would probably recommend you to steer clear. Overall it was an enjoyable movie, about a group of superhero wannabes, who end up becoming real heroes in the end. It's a vastly overrated comedy that many people probably haven't seen yet, because like me before viewing it expected it to be utter garbage. After viewing this film, I finally understand why this movie was able to assemble such a superstar cast which includes Ben Stiller, William H. Macy, Hank Azaria, and even that kid from Good Burger. It's because Mystery Man is full of excellent comedic writing period 7 out of 10. A very big surprise.
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9/10
More hero than super
krisvad13 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
A film about wannabee's, never-were's and less-than-heroes making it against all odds. Where have we heard that before. But when the unfortunates are the Shoveller, the Blue Raja and Mr.Furious you know this is not your conventional rags to riches story.

A classic performance by Eddie Izzard as Tony P. one of the Disco boys leaders and Geoffrey Rush as Arch Villain shows actual thought went into the casting.

Even Greg Kinnear, at first glance an odd choice for the role of Captain Amazing turns out spot on.

Watch this film if you're sick of comic-gone-film stereotypes. Why couldn't anger be a super power?
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9/10
Difficult to put into words, but fantastic!
Waco Tohausen30 March 2004
Warning: Spoilers
******WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS**************

So who are these "Mystery Men?" Simply put, the Mystery Men are a group of sub-Heroes desperately trying to live out their adolescent fantasy lives while botching both their real identities and their super identities. The Shoveller (Bill Macy) works construction during the day, and at night, leaves his wife and kids at home while he cruises the street looking for crimes to tackle with his extraordinary and unique Shovel-fighting style. The Blue Raja (Hank Azaria) sells silverware to newlyweds by day and flings tableware at crackpot villians by night, if his mom isn't keeping him busy with the latest snooping. Mr. Furious works in a junk yard to earn his pay, then takes out his frustration on his friends at night, tossing ill-conceived one-liners at friend and foe alike and threatening to get really angry (leaving everyone to wonder, So What?). Ben Stiller breathes such life into this character, you can't help but love him.

These three spend their nights trying to capture that 'moment of glory' they've dreamed about... becoming real Super Heroes. Obviously, it could happen. Champion City has Captain Amazing, after all... a flying, fighting super-cop with enough corporate logos on his costume to stop an extra bullet or two. Greg Kinnear turns in a stellar performance as a middle-aged sellout trying to recapture his fans attention in the twilight of his career.

To bring back that 'extra magic' that might win the endorsements again, C.A. frees Casanova Frankenstein, a WAAAAAY over-the-top menace played to chilling perfection by Goeffrey Rush. This lunatic genius has created a 'psychofrakulator' to warp Champion City into a reflection of his own insanities... and ends up capturing C.A. within hours of his release from prison. This leaves only the Mystery Men to stop Frankenstein's evil plan, but with such henchmen as the Disco Boys protecting Frankenstein, the trio are going to need a little help.

Recruiting commences, and after a painful recruitment party, the team settles in with The Bowler (Janeane Garofolo), who initially has the only real talent in the team, with her mystic bowling ball seemingly animated by the vengeful spirit of her dead father; the Invisible Boy (Kel Mitchell), who CLAIMS to turn invisible when ABSOLUTELY NO ONE is looking at him; the Spleen (Paul Reubens), granted mystically powerful flatulence by an angry gypsy; and the much underused Sphinx (Wes Studi), who is shown to be able to cut guns in half with his mind, then spends much of the rest of the movie spouting inane riddles and acting over-wise.

This film really is a cross-genre romp. Anyone wanting to pigeon-hole films into neat little categories is fighting a losing battle. This is a spoof/parody of the superhero genre - from the pseudo-Burton sets recycled endlessly (and occasionally decorated with more spoof material) to the ridiculous costumes, the comic-book genre gets a pretty good send-up. But at the same time, it is a serious superhero flick, as well. Both at once. While not a necessarily unique idea in itself (for example, this movie is in some ways reflective of D.C. Comic's short-lived Inferior Five work), it is fairly innovative for the big screen. It offers the comic-book world that requires a suspension of disbelief to accept anyway, then throws in the inevitable wanna-bes - and we all know, if superheroes were real, so would these guys be real. If the Big Guy with the S were flying around New York City, you'd see a half-dozen news reports about idiots in underwear getting their butts kicked on a regular basis. Sure, the Shoveller fights pretty well, and the Blue Raja hurls forks with great accuracy - all parts of the super-hero world. But does that make them genuine super-heroes? Only in their minds.

This movie is also a comedy, albeit a dark one. Inevitable, when trying to point out the patent ridiculous nature of super-heroics. One-liners fly as the comic geniuses on stage throw out numerous bits to play off of. Particularly marvelous is the dialogue by Janeane Garofalo with her bowling ball/father. Yet, it isn't a comedy in the sense of side-splitting laughter or eternally memorable jokes. It mixes in a dose of drama, of discovery and of romance, but never really ventures fully into any of it.

What really makes Mystery Men a good film, in the end, is that it is very engaging. The weak/lame good guys are eventually justified and, for one shining moment, really become super-heroes; justice is served; and the movie ends with a scene that reeks of realism (as much realism as is possible in a world where bowling balls fly and glasses make the perfect disguise). If the viewer stops trying to label the film, then the film can be a great romp.

Of course, no movie is perfect. Claire Forlani comes off as bored and directionless as Mr. Furious' love interest, in spite of having a pivotal role as his conscience. Tom Waits seems somehow confused by his own lines as the mad inventor Dr. Heller, although his opening scenes picking up retired ladies in the nursing home is worth watching alone. And the villians are never more than gun-toting lackeys (a point of which is made in the film). The cinematography is choppy and disjointed (such as happens in the average comic book, so it is excusable), the music sometimes overpowers the scenery, and the special effects are never quite integrated into the rest very well.

Yet, overall, this film is incredible. You probably have to be a fan of comics and the superhero genre to really appreciate this movie, but it's a fun romp and a good way to kill a couple of hours and let your brain rest.

8/10 in my opinion.
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Casper meets the Magnificent Seven meets Permanent Midnight
tedg19 July 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

This thing really grows on you. It has style and charm both, despite the popular trappings. It has some superb performers that are free to do their thing. Three rather pleasant and talented women. Two things in particular:

--The sets are Gaudi-based, or as Gaudi would make them in the pessimistic 30's. Frankenstein's mansion is not quite as impressive as the mansion in Casper. But it is worth the price of viewing for that alone. So few films have competent set design, design that supports a coherent stylistic notion, much less an intelligent notion. It is bizarre, and it works.

--We have here Stiller and Garafalo, just after doing `Permanent Midnight,' carrying the same intensity, but here as self-parody. She's a gem, who knows how to control her environment without you knowing.

In fact all the actors are not spoofing past hero movies so much as spoofing acting styles. This is the only forum where when you put actors in charge, you don't get a mess, you get fun. And it is pretty intelligent fun if you ignore the words.
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7/10
Lightweight, Goofy & Fun
ccthemovieman-13 November 2006
This was different, that's for sure. Just look at the cast! Talk about oddballs.

William H. Macy and Ben Stiller were the stars, although a bunch of actors almost share the spotlight, in this farce about superhero-wannabees. The most outrageous was played by Paul Reubens of "Pee Wee Herman" fame.

There is lots of humor, garish colors and no lulls. It's a pretty entertaining, lightweight comedy with nothing but goofy characters, all of whom want to be heroes a la Superman, Batman, Spiderman, you name. They have talents in strange areas, however, that the real heroes don't (and don't want to!). It's silly, but you know that going on.

It's also a film you can watch in installments and not really miss any continuity. It's a long movie for one so hectic, so taking a break here and there is okay. The language was tame so kids could enjoy this, too. In fact, I don't recall any swearing in here, except the guy in the theater next to me who kept uttering, "What a dumb, f---ing movie." I thought it was fun two hours but I'd rather watch it on DVD and take a few breaks.
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8/10
This may be the coolest superhero movie ever.
Lee Eisenberg4 October 2005
On one level, "Mystery Men" is kind of dumb. But on all other levels, it's a hoot. When superhero Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear) is kidnapped by the lascivious Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush), it's up to superhero wannabes Mr. Furious (Ben Stiller), The Shoveller (William H. Macy) and The Blue Rajah (Hank Azaria) to save him. Along the way, the group is joined by Invisible Boy (Kel Mitchell), Spleen (Paul Reubens), Baby Bowler (Janeane Garofalo) and The Sphinx (Wes Studi), all of whom provide some riotous lines.

Among other things, this was the first place where I ever saw comedian Eddie Izzard (he plays Tony P., one of Frankenstein's henchmen). All in all, the movie is great fun. Don't get turned off just because the sets look a little bit like those from the god-awful "Batman and Robin"; "Mystery Men" is really cool. It's one of a kind.
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10/10
I love this movie!^_^
friggindemon29 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this in theaters and absolutely adored it. Geoffery Rush gave the best performance as a super villain that I have ever seen since Gene Hackman as Lex Luther. Kel Mitchel and Paul Rubens were a match maid in heaven. This film also introduced me to William H. Macy, who is now one of my favorite actors. Hank was great as the Blue Raja, and I especially loved that the character wasn't really British. The scene with him and telling his mom that he was a superhero almost brought tears to my eyes. I loved the fact that The Bowler talked to the ball. Some of the funniest stuff involved Stiller and his character Mr. Furious's false rage, and the fact that his threats and one-liners were all gibberish, and that they never made any sense. I could barely stop myself from applauding when he said "fraculater, Freinken-puss," was said. But one of the things I most enjoyed was that Captain Amazing actually dies in the movie. I HIGHLY recommend this film for any occasion, and I give it my own personal two-thumbs-up.
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8/10
First-rate comedy about second-rate characters
Spleen11 June 2000
I make just one apology for this film: there are far, far, too many wide angle close-ups, and if they irritate you beyond endurance, fair enough. They drove ME barmy for the first ten minutes or so. But after that I made a kind of a truce with the terrible cinematography; and long before the end of the film, I had ceased to care. This is too rich a comedy to be destroyed so easily. It's hilarious, it's witty, the comic delivery of ALL of the cast is flawless, and however much Usher peers at his characters through a cold, fish-eye lens - HE may not care for them much - he manages to present them with warmth. `Mystery Men' is, in fact, not only funnier, not only more clever, but also deeper, than anyone seems to have given it credit for being. The jokes in the Austin Powers movies, for instance, as well as being less funny than the jokes here, are also much more toothless. The satire of `Mystery Men' bites when there's something worth biting and gnaws gently when there isn't. It doesn't mock just any old thing. Which is why, contrary to what some (I must regard them as unobservant) critics have said, it never runs out of ideas.

The `super' heroes are an attractive bunch. Sure, they're second-rate, but they're not merely second rate. The Blue Rajah, for instance, does nothing but throw cutlery at people, and he isn't THAT good at it. On the other hand, neither is he comically bad. He's better in his limited field than most people, and he DOES practise diligently. He's not a buffoon, which makes him a much funnier character than if he was. If Superman is Christ in a cape, the Mystery Men are all the minor demigods from the foothills of Mount Olympus, in capes. Much funnier; also much more endearing.
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8/10
Well written and well acted, though the genre has been done to death in subsequent years.
TheWildGoose17 February 2007
The rating I'm giving may seem unreasonably high, but I have to give "Mystery Men" a lot of credit for some hilarious running gags, most of which go completely unnoticed on first viewing (and which, I understand, were largely improvised). It seems as if every time I watch it, I see something I missed before.

"Mystery Men" is not just very funny, it is consistently funny throughout. Even better, most of it is relatively clean humour (not spotless, though), at least compared to some of the jokes you'll find in the typical modern comedy.

That said, the superhero-parody genre has been more-or-less mined out by now, so perhaps "Mystery Men" will not age well. I am a little sick of these types of movies myself, but I do not hold it against "Mystery Men", which I liked when I first saw it and still do.
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8/10
Hilarious
dsolgoo-net26 December 2006
This movie is funny and intelligent. It wasn't my mood either: I found it even funnier the second time. No point in analyzing it; just sit back and let it roll over you. I especially like the way the rage guy faces off with the Sphynx character and how the girl hero has such thick makeup, reminding me of a pathetic adolescent who has no friends to tell her she's got it on too thick. The lack of unity, the lack of self-confidence, the bickering of these pathetic would-be heroes is so funny! And the evil characters are, if anything, even more funny. The German guy only has to open his mouth before mine is open in laughter. Those who complain that the film is full of clichés misses the point. It's the clichés more than anything that makes this film work so well. Airplane did that but Mystery Man takes it to a new level. The scene of the two in the light of the full moon, opera music swelling, while the otter...
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9/10
Back in 1999...
Theshapeshifter13 November 2006
This film is a shining example of the good old days known as the nineties. Back in those days, comedies meant something. And they're remembered even now in certain quarters. This film is brilliant because it not only provides an insurmountable amount of laughs and fun concepts, it also show how people as a whole truly can be. This is said because the movie showed through examples of goofy pseudo-superheroes that people are who they are and just have to work that to their advantages.

Mushy sentiment aside, the film starts off by showing a trio of superheroes in Champion City (an overt, if functioning title for a city) trying to fight but losing. With yet another defeat tallied up and a substantially important city personage missing, the three superheroes decide to recruit some newer members to their fold and fight off the fiend who started this mess. As luck would have it, it all seems to go awry, until they enlist the help of a big-time superhero as well as a deranged scientist (played to the hilt by the great Tom Waits) who offers them weapons. It then remains on our newfound heroes to fight the villain and save more than the city. All in all, an excellent film for all with limited cursing, little or no sexual humour, and just a wee bit (bad pun) of toilet humour.
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