Three clueless high school nerds, best friends for years, call themselves the "Mystery Team" and solve neighborhood crimes - such as who poked a finger in a pie cooling on a window ledge - cute at seven but foolish at 18. Then, one morning, a young girl pays them a dime to find out who murdered her parents the night before and took her grandmother's ring. Using inept methods, the team lucks onto the trail of the bad guys. Can they bumble to success and a renewed reputation? And what about coming of age? Written by
A fan of DERRICK comedy for many years, I was ecstatic when I found out they were semi-premiering Mystery Team in Austin, and got tickets.
The experience was fantastic. In addition to seeing the feature film, DERRICK frontmen DC, Donald, and Dominic were there to open and close the film and offer a quick Q & A- and the audience was treated to two never-before-seen new DERRICK shorts (which were, easily, some of their most-hilarious) as well as a live comedy sketch the trio did on the subject of their new 'squibbles' social network. (Don't ask, it ultimately was a big hilarious charade with no point.) Long-story-short, the entire night was excellent. Hilarious, genuine, and cleverly-crafted. The film, of course, was the most impressive aspects- both surprising, (minimally) disappointing, and inspiring in the way it played out.
Instead of the requisite R-rated vulgar (albeit hilarious) jabs you might expect from the trailer, the movie flows in a much more light-hearted, innocent manner- only sprinkled with bits of disgust and profanity. But it keeps its momentum WITH these bits, and is all-the-better because of it.
Here we've got, well, The MYSTERY TEAM- three older teenagers who, unlike the harsh reality the film takes place in, have delusions of grandeur and childlike obliviousness that both makes them innocent and immune to some of the outlandish situations they're placed in. The most vulgar and adult character, then, is the actual CHILD of the whole movie, an 8-year-old criminal- who swears and totes guns and hangs out in strip clubs- and the Mystery Team's interaction both with him and the many degenerates of the movie is really the catalyst and heart of both the story's intrigue and comedy.
Think of Alan from The Hangover, or Michael Scott from the Office- characters in that implacable position of both being winningly R-rated/inappropriate and pathetically juvenile at the same time. These guys are like that- and the movie moves and succeeds largely on this facet.
This isn't to say the film is technically superb, though. It is, and I was genuinely surprised. As a filmmaker myself, I was uncertain about how DERRICK's usually so-so technical qualities in their shorts would transport to the big screen. But they do so with maximum, artful flair and professional edge. When I was there, I was amazed at how such a self-produced movie could look so good, especially when I'm knowledgeable of just how far and how good such a camera as DERRICK's can ultimately look. They push their images and equipment to the limits, though, and the film looks simply pristine.
Riding a line similar to, say, Arrested Development in terms of being both preposterous and believable, Mystery Team isn't as FUNNY as the likes of this year's hilarious blockbuster The Hangover (although I've often heard it is).
No, it isn't FUNNIER, per se, but it's damn near close to AS FUNNY as The Hangover. But, no, the comparison isn't a justified one. Because really, Mystery Team succeeds in being an overall BETTER film- laden with characters you either love to hate or enjoy seeing succeed, pushing an innocence that makes you smile, and moving through situations and locations so diverse, profane, and vulgar you can't help but be intrigued.
Played-out like an actual mystery caper in classic Scooby-Doo fashion, Mystery Team's ability to mix heavy, outlandish satire with gritty realism and classical if not slightly overdone narrative flow makes it a potently winning, highly satisfying picture.
After the movie I got a chance to talk very briefly with the creators, and all approached my questions and musings with absolute friendliness, casual respect, and poise that made them fitting actors for such innocent roles. I may only be 19, but I've seen my share of douchebag indie filmmakers and these guys- both in their work and presentation- were anything but. A breath of fresh air I really enjoyed to be a part of. I hope they go far. Dominic, DC, Donald- if you ever read this: Bravo and Good Luck, guys.
A solid 8/10, close to a 9. If this plays even REMOTELY close to you, go see it. It's a genuinely silly and unforgiving pleasure of a movie you're sure to absolutely love.
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