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Mystery Men (1999)

  Directed by: Kinka Usher
Written by: Bob Burden, Neil Cuthbert
Starring: Hank Azaria, Claire Forlani, Janeane Garofalo, Greg Kinnear, William H. Macy, Kel Mitchell, Paul Reubens, Geoffrey Rush, Ben Stiller
Links: Mystery Men on the IMDb, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD, Buy the Soundtrack
Genre: Comedy

This movie gets: 2.00 (1 rating)
nofreelist.com Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

Mystery Men (1999) is also mentioned in mino's review of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003).

"About as funny as the waiter taking a dump in your wild mushroom risotto." - a review by mino

On paper, Mystery Men has a great cast, and a very clever premise with great potential for comedy. A bunch of misfit superheroes, with absolutely no real talent to speak of, trying to bring themselves out from under the shadow of a real, honest-to-god superhero who keeps making them look bad.

Yeah, on paper it's great. Alas, transferred to celluloid, Mystery Men is a big steaming heap of crap.

It's hard to work out exactly how a movie which shows so much promise — and managed to get so many big stars on board — fails so spectacularly. It's an unfunny heap of crap, and you can't actually blame the stars. Ben Stiller is probably the star here as Mr Furious, and he's OK, but it wouldn't matter who played the role: Jesus himself wouldn't have been able to save this stinker.

William H. Macy is also good as The Shoveller (who smacks his enemies in the face with a shovel); probably Janeane Garofalo is the only other standout (words I never thought would pass my keyboard, I can tell you). Hank Azaria is, sadly, quite disappointing, with a mind-bogglingly irritating British accent — surprising, given his obvious voiceover talents — and the less said about Paul Reubens the better.

Alas, Azaria's isn't the worst accent in the movie: that dubious honour goes to Geoffrey Rush, a truly outstanding actor who must have been very hard up indeed to cover his rent the month this was made, because I cannot for the life of me would imagine why he would take the god-awful role of archvillian Casanova Frankenstein. His every screen moment is painful, and that's totally unheard of for Rush, as far as I'm concerned.

There's a very good performance from Greg Kinnear as Captain Amazing, but alas, that's not nearly enough to save this movie. Frankly, when Greg Kinnear is one of your finest actors, you should know you're doing something wrong.

The only way Mystery Men manages to keep your interest at all is because the whole time, you're sitting there going ‘hmm… it must be about to get funny soon!’ but, alas, it never happens. Right up to the end, the movie is stunningly unfunny. It could be one of those movies where you laugh at it, not with it, but you can't even bring yourself to do that. In fact, you're far more likely to weep than laugh.

There are a host of other annoyances, apart from the truly winceworthy script. The whole film is so dark that I was convinced that the TV was on the blink, the director Kinka Usher's TV commercial background is painfully obvious, and the soundtrack — well, I don't know what else to say, because andy-j has already made his thoughts on Smash Mouth's All Star clear, and I would merely be parroting them.

On the plus side, I'm sure Mystery Men was a very successful tax write-off for whichever shifty businessman elected to fund it. At least, I can only assume that was the plan. After all, why else would the ‘deleted scenes’ contain some scenes which would actually have doubled both the comedy level and the plot intelligibility level?

The quote on the back of the box for Mystery Men claims that “seeing it just once will never be enough”: let's just say that never ever ever in my life have I read such an erroneous claim.

mino gives this movie 2 out of 10.
Review created on Sat 24 Jan 2004

Movie review statistics

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