50 of 54 people found the following review helpful
We're not your classic heros. We're the other guys.,
This review is from: Mystery Men (DVD)
Being acutely familiar with the source material for this film as I collected many a comic book in my youth, I thought Mystery Men (1999) did a really good job staying close to its' roots. Based on characters created by Bob Burden and showcased within the pages of his 'Flaming Carrot' comic book, Mystery Men highlights those 'not so super' super heroes, the blue collar ones that don't necessarily have the most spectacular powers, but seem to share a desire to protect their fellow man against evil and it's minions.
The film has a pretty impressive ensemble cast including Ben Stiller as Mr. Furious, William H. Macy as The Shoveller, Janeane Garolafo as The Bowler, Paul Rubens as The Spleen, Hank Azaria as The Blue Raja, Greg Kinnear as Captain Amazing, and Geoffery Rush as the villain Casanova Frankenstein. The supporting cast includes Claire Forlani, Lena Olin, Tom Waits, Eddie Izzard, Artie Lange, and Louise Lassiter.
The story involves the kidnapping of Capitol City's most popular hero, Captain Amazing (Kinnear) by Casanova Frankenstein, and a small group of less than stellar heroes attempting to rescue him while thwarting the villain's evil scheme to subjugate the city to his will. The core group, consisting of Mr. Furious (his rage is boundless), The Shoveller (he shovels better than anyone), and The Blue Raja (flinger of cutlery), realize they don't have the numbers to go up against Casanova and his gang, so they have a recruitment drive and enlist the aid of The Bowler, whose bowling ball is imbued with the spirit (along with the skull) of her deceased father, Invisible Boy (who can only turn invisible when no one is watching), The Spleen (whose powers involve the ability to produce flatulence and direct it with precision accuracy), and The Sphinx (Wes Studi), whose main power seems to be the ability to produce a conundrum for any situation . Also they acquire some very interesting non-lethal weaponry from a local mad scientist Dr. A Heller (Tom Waits) to assist them in their mission.
The production values in the movie are really wonderful, creating beautifully detailed sets and serve well to create a comic book atmosphere that fit the story well. I was impressed with the director's ability to focus on the core characters just enough to provide the appropriate background, while keeping the secondary characters in the loop. There was a lot going on in the film, so I think this was quite a juggling act. A lot of the humor was tongue in cheek, sort of spoofing the image of the classic superhero, and doing so in a good-natured way. Some of the humor is crude, and the movie does get a little bogged down in silliness at times, but the actors all seemed to have a lot of fun putting forth their performances, and it comes through.
There are a ton of special features available, from deleted scenes, production notes, a history of the Mystery Men from their comic book origins, biographies, a commentary track with the director, recommendations, musical highlights from the film, and more. The deleted scenes are worth checking out as I think they weren't so much removed from the film due to the poor quality of the scenes, but probably a desire to trim the running time of the movie as it is at two hours as released. I probably wouldn't recommend this movie to anyone, but if you have an odd side to your sense of humor, and can appreciate a somewhat subversive look into the world of super heroes, then you may enjoy this film. I you liked this film I would also recommend The Specials (2000), another super hero movie of sorts, with a similar skewed view and a wry sense of humor.