Retro Review: Mystery Men

How does a dysfunctional group of wanna be superheroes save the world? That’s the question Mystery Men is trying to ask in this superhero satire.

Comedians Ben Stiller, Janeane Garofalo, Paul Reubens and Hank Azaria star along side Academy award nominees William H Macy and Geoffrey Rush in a comedy which almost puts the fun back in superheroes. Stiller, Azaria, and Macy are a trio of heroes trying to make a name for themselves as they try to climb out from beneath the shadows of the City’s real superhero Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear). But when Amazing is kidnapped by his arch-nemesis, the trio must gather up a bunch of misfits to save the day.

Mystery Men is a great looking film as the opening shots and scenic panning grab our eyes and draw us into a world that feels eerily like Batman’s Gotham City and with the ensemble cast, why doesn’t it sore?

Stiller’s “Mr. Furious”, Macy’s “Shoveller” and Garofalo’s “Bowler” are beautiful characters that stand-out as the heart of the film. Furious is perfect for Stiller because of his over-the-top anger schtick he has been passing off for years.

Macy can finally say he has indeed played every kind of character imaginable. I mean when can a character actor like him say he’s been a superhero.

A huge flaw in Mystery Men seems to be that it is caught in the same web that has brought so many other superhero movie disasters. They introduce so many characters that by the last introduction they don’t even make sense anymore.

There have been so many movies about no-name superheroes but there is a fine line between ones that work and others that, well, really don’t. Characters wise Mystery Men works but the storyline and fully realized vision just isn’t there.

(2.5 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

Written: August 7, 1999

One thought on “Retro Review: Mystery Men

  1. It hurt my heart to read this. It really did. Certainly not because of the writing, but because you didn’t love “Mystery Men” as I do. I can understand that — I’ve read many a review saying that the movie was immature and cartoonish, what with all the flatulence jokes and such. But with repeat viewings the sharp wit of the film continues to impress me as does the look of the movie, with its bright colors. The characters have a special place in my heart because this may well be one of the best ensemble casts I’ve ever seen. I mean, Tom Waites and William H. Macy and Ben Stiller and Geoffrey Rush and Eddie Izzard? IN THE SAME MOVIE? Come on! Now that’s good casting, is what that is.

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