Movie Review – “Mystery Men”

They’re not the regular super heroes. They’re not
the favourites. They’re the other guys.

Cast, Crew, and Other Info

Hank Azaria as the Blue Raja

Claire Forlani as Monica

Janeane Garofalo as the Bowler

Greg Kinnear as Captain Amazing / Lance Hunt

William H. Macy as the Shoveller

Kel Mitchell as the Invisible Boy

Lena Olin as Dr. Annabel Leek

Paul Reubens as the Spleen

Geoffrey Rush as Casanova Frankenstein

Ben Stiller as Mr. Furious

Wes Studi as the Sphinx

Tom Waits as Dr. A. Heller

Written by Neil Cuthbert, based on a Bob Burden comic

Directed by Kinka Usher

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Past movie reviews can be found here.


When Champion City’s main superhero is taken out of
action, the B-list
decides to step up and save the day.

High Point

The motivational egg salad speech.

Low Point

The skunk humping scene. Just pointless.

The Scores

This was somewhat original. The idea of
inept and/or
accidental superheroes is at least as old as
Condorman and
Flash Gordon, but this version has a much
different feel to
it. Usually, the accidental heroes are from a world
that has no
heroes; in this case, they’re just a bunch of the
inevitable wannabes
that would be inspired if the genuine article ever
appeared. It’s
also an adaptation of an existing work. It does
depart from the genre
in a few stylistic ways, though. I give it 4 out of

The effects were generally well done, with
some smooth
transitions from live action to CGI and back. The
only one that even
felt off was the Spleen’s little canned tornado ride.
I give it 5 out
of 6.

The story has some rather unexpected twists,
such as the
rescue mission, and still holds together fairly well.
I give it 5 out
of 6.

The acting from most of the cast is very
good. William
H. Macy is always great, and Hank Azaria does some
fine work, too.
Ben Stiller’s performance is a Ben Stiller
performance; there’s
nothing really wrong with it, but he always gives me
the impression
that he’s invested so much time practicing,
rehearsing and refining
that he’s just spent by the time the cameras role,
and it comes across
as being just a bit too calculated. I give it 4 out
of 6.

The emotional response is great. This is a
funny movie, with
some excellent lines. Individual moments can be
wonderful. I give it
5 out of 6.

The production falters a bit. The pacing is
just generally
slower than you’ll find from the rest of the
superhero genre. The
editing isn’t as fast in most areas, but that really
comes across in
the final confrontation. Rather than hectic
intercutting, we see the
heroes taking turns at doing their jobs through
sequential events,
often leaving the viewer wondering what the others
are doing. Then
moments like the pinky flip come up that linger long
enough to show
that the actor/actress has stopped moving in a pose
for the camera,
breaking the sense of reality of the show. These are
somewhat minor
quibbles, but I find that they come through more and
more strongly
with each viewing. Add in some inconsistencies in
set-ups between
different camera angles and the inclusion of some
special effects
footage from the deleted ending sequence, and it just
comes across as
an amateur effort that could have been better. The
lighting was too
far toward the ambient comedy side that the low-key
goth side that the
city really needed to match its look. I give it 3
out of 6.

Overall, despite the production
inadequacies, it’s an
entertaining movie that should amuse anyone who
doesn’t take his or
her heroes too seriously. I give it 4 out of 6.

In total, Mystery Men receives 30 out of 42.

7 replies on “Movie Review – “Mystery Men””

  1. William H. Macy said it best.
    I saw an interview with him about the movie, and he had the perfect line for friends asking him what it was about. “Loser Superheroes”. That’s perfect.

    Come to think of it, it’s a fairly quotable movie. “You put your dad’s skull in a bowling ball?” “No, the guy at the pro shop did.” “Maybe you should put some clothes on if you want to help fight crime” “I’m an effete British superhero”

    • But no Flaming Carrot….

      “You dress is the manner of a male prostitute.”

      “You shovel better than any man alive. But that doesn’t make you a superhero.”

      What makes this film especially funny for me is how perfectly it captures the conventions of the genre: themed villains, ridiculous outfits, and the Spleen relating his origin story the moment he meets other heroes. While obviously parodic comedy, it very much resembles the world as it would be if superhero comic conventions were reality. Let’s face it: the Blue Rajas would far outnumber the Green Lanterns.

  2. Bored
    The build-up through compiling the group (especially the interviews) was pretty good, but after that I felt it started loosing cohesion, and my interest. Maybe if I’d read the comics I might have understood it more, but I just didn’t find most of it to be very funny beyond a forced grimace.


  3. casting miss
    You missed one of the best casting points – Tom Waits as That Crazy Weapons Inventor Whose Name I Can’t Remember! I’m pretty sure that’s what it said on his business card…

    You can’t beat a good ‘blamethrower’!

    • Re: casting miss

      You missed one of the best casting points – Tom Waits as That Crazy Weapons Inventor Whose Name I Can’t Remember! I’m pretty sure that’s what it said on his business card…

      You can’t beat a good ‘blamethrower’!

      For some reason, I entered his name as “Tom Studi” instead of “Tom Waits.” The character was Dr. A. Heller. I’ll go fix that.

  4. Misfit menagerie with mayhem massive
    I felt the movie was great entertainment giving us a wacky underdog story with great wit and satire. Sure the group was bizare; an invisble boy who do so only when no one was looking, a shovel themed crimfighter, the gas giving flatulator, a visionary with the “looming threat” of loosing control of great (never seen) power, and the gal with the mystic bowling ball. Add to this a supporting villian of equally oddball quality like Casanova Frankenstein and his cadre of cooky criminals and you know for certain the movie is meant for comedy.

    I was even entertained when they pulled a fresh twist to the old good guys save the day routine. When I saw it the first time I thought the movie was nearing to the end when they suddenly pulled that switch. (Ooh, sorry about the pun.)

    If your looking for a little comedic entertainment and your a fan of the comic book superhero genre you may enjoy this.

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