Where ever there is a movie, there is a spoof of that movie. For comic book movies, Mystery Men is that spoof, but it isn't quite up to par.
In a crazy, futuristic city, Captain Amazing is the hero, but he has been kidnapped. It is now up to a bunch of misfits (none of which really have any super powers that mock any of the real comic book characters) to save Captain Amazing and stop the evil bad guy from destroying the city.
Mystery Men does have a lot of laugh-out-loud parts. The Spleen (played by Paul Reubens, who we all might remember as Peewee Herman) is especially funny. The first half hour definitely is good, but after that, it just goes downhill. Any real jokes were crammed into that time segment (obviously the part that the company read before giving Mystery Men a green light). Greg Kinnear as Captain Amazing is the only direct spoof of "real" comic books, namely Superman and Clark Kent. But the glasses is about all the writers thought of. There are no direct comparisons to Batman, Spiderman, or any other famous heroes of the last seventy-five years (and only a brief take on Wonder Woman). A film like this should be packed from beginning to end with obvious spoofs of characters that people take seriously, not just featuring a bunch of lowlifes who just bicker among themselves.
Mystery Men is filled with a great cast, but it is also a wasted cast. As mentioned earlier, Paul Reubens and Greg Kinnear are the highlights, and that's about it. Ben Stiller, who is pretty much the main characters, delivers a decent but not outstanding role. William Macy, one of the best actors in Hollywood, seems like he's using wood on metal, however; his lines seem about as dry as his superpowers. Janeane Garofalo, with her absolutely idiotic bowling ball with her father's head inside, has the flattest character out of the group, even though it appeared as though the writers took great pride in making her three-dimensional. Hank Azaria is neither good nor bad, but his character begins to get annoying real quick.
The ending is cheesy, but not in any kind of spoof way. It is just bad. Again, where are the spoofs? Where are the references to comic heroes?
If you need a comparison, think of Batman and Robin, except that this film is trying to be cheesy. Mystery Men has its high points but by the end, it is just a bore.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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