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Mystery Men
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Mystery Men More at IMDbPro »

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

More hero than super

Author: krisvad from Denmark
13 April 2005

*** This review may contain 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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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Difficult to put into words, but fantastic!

Author: Waco Tohausen ( from Cincinnati, OH
30 March 2004

*** This review 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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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Well written and well acted, though the genre has been done to death in subsequent years.

Author: TheWildGoose from United States
17 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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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:


Author: dsolgoo-net from Canada
26 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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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Back in 1999...

Author: Theshapeshifter from United States
13 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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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Wittiest dialogue in a comedy ever!

Author: tamgirl from United States
13 July 2006

I am not a comic book reader, so I did not have any preconceived notions about this movie. However, it is one of my all time favorites. The dialogue is so witty and the characters are uniquely classic. There are so many great lines that I couldn't name them all. I found the humor to derive itself from how seriously the characters take themselves versus the lack of seriousness from their spouses, parents, love interests, community etc... Every time I watch this movie, I find new, hilarious dialogue that I had missed previously. The plot maybe was a little predictable, but the all star cast and top notch writing easily overcomes the formulaic plot. How could you go wrong anyway with Stiller, William H. Macy, Janeane Garofalo ,Geoffrey Rush, Greg Kinnear, Tom Waits and the list goes on. Not only is this movie a must see, but it is a must buy. I watch it over and over.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Undiscovered gem

Author: johncloke from London, UK
25 March 2006

When I first saw this film in the video store I skipped past it thinking it was just another superhero flick. It strikes me that the producers even tried to make it appear like a "serious" superhero film - which is an amusing idea, but ultimately may be the reason its target audience is largely unaware of it.

I don't remember what made me get it out, but I'm glad I did. Not a spoof exactly, but a knowing take on the Superman "American Dream" premise. Hank Azaria is excellent, and Ben Stiller is on top form. And if you want to see the definitive William H Macy comedy performance, this is it.

Highly recommended.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

An amazingly polarizing film--you'll either love it or hate it

Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
3 September 2007

The story is about the lamest group of super-heroes you could imagine. Apart from Janine Garafolo's "Bowler", the rest are amazingly untalented and unimpressive as they try to battle the dark forces of an evil super-villain, "Cassanova Frankenstein". The only one who COULD defeat the bad guy is "Captain Fantastic", who unfortunately was captured by Cassanova and the Mystery Men are forced into action.

I loved the many quirky characters in the film. My favorite was the "Blue Rajah" (played by Hank Azaria). The fact that he dressed in green and tossed spoons (not even forks or knives) at the beginning of the film AND lived with his mother made him a hoot. But the rest were all quirky and silly--making the film a wonderful little comedy.

Of all the films I have ever watched, this seems to be the one with the most polarized reactions to it (even more so than THE HUDSUCKER PROXY). When I first saw it, I loved it and couldn't wait to get others to see it. Surprisingly, again and again, those I watched it with hated it! And over the years, I have met many people who either loved it or hated it--not many in between.

Unfortunately, I really can't say whether or not you will like the film. Those who I know that did were all weird people (like me) and it seemed that the more conventional people just thought the movie was stupid. So depending on which camp you'd place yourself should determine whether or not you give this a try.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

one underrated movie

Author: kyle from United States
9 March 2006

the star vote scale doesn't go high enough for me to express my love for this movie. I'm pretty sure there isn't enough stars in space for me to rate this movie appropriately. I highly recommend it.



i have a hard time determining whether i love this movie or A Friday Night Date more.

I haven't decided, I bought 2 TV's so i can watch them simultaneously.

If i were to express all my feelings for both movies the internet would cease to be.

William Gates would be horrified

I got to go, the movies are starting.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Underrated little geek out

Author: erikharrison from Asheville, NC
18 December 2005

"Nystery Men" is an unpretentious little flick with a lot in it's favor. A good cast, some quirky dialog, and a director who knows when to just let his cast have a good time all add up to a fun time.

"Mystery Men" is not a genre flick in the usual sense, nor is it a Ben Stiller vehicle. It is more like "The Mask" except it relies on the ensemble instead of a central star. This has likely contributed to the movie's relative obscurity, and the broad dislike by a number of its viewers. You have to be willing to geek out a bit, and watch a goofy comedic ensemble at work to appreciate "Mystery Men".

That said, a few things do not work. The love story between Ben Stiller's self conscious hero and Claire Forlani's waitress simply doesn't seem to play. Kel Mitchel is simply adequate, and though I find him hilarious, it's hard to separate the scatological (or methalogical, if you prefer) The Spleem from Paul Reuben's personal life.

All in all, our motley team of untalented superheros play delightfully off of each other, and entertain more than they bore. Watch for a classic parody of every pep talk in all of film from William H Macy. It's brief, it's funny, and it is perfectly delivered, and contains the heart of "Mystery Men"

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