Main cast: Ben Stiller (Mr Furious), William H Macy (The Shoveler), Geoffrey Rush (Casanova Frankenstein), Greg Kinnear (Captain Amazing), Hank Azaria (Blue Raja), Janeane Garofalo (The Bowler), Wes Studi (Mr Mysterious), Kel Mitchell (Invisible Boy), and Paul Reubens (Spleen)
Director: Kinka Usher
It’s tough being a loser. Ask these guys. Mr Furious has a temper – “Don’t mess with volcanoes, guys!” – but that only makes his opponents more angry and beat him up even more. The Shoveler gets no respect even from his wife – “Honey, you’re a good husband and a good father. That’s all.” – while Blue Raja’s mother suspects him of being high on marijuana. These superhero-wannabes are mocked by the police and even by their idol, Captain Amazing.
Captain Amazing has a dilemma. He is too successful in ridding Champion City from villains that life is now too… peaceful. And a peaceful city needs no longer a superhero. His sponsorship deals in jeopardy, Captain Amazing decides to arrange for the release of his archnemesis Frankenstein from the loony bin.
Frankie however ends up capturing Captain Amazing. Now it’s up to our ragtag team to save the day. They are smart, however, so they recruit more lousy wannabes to their aid. Meet The Bowler, who uses a bowling ball possessed by her dead Dad’s spirit to avenge him. The Spleen who takes flatulence to destructive new heights, and then there’s The Invisible Boy, who can only becomes invisible when no one, including himself, is watching. Mr Mysterious sprouts third-rate Kung-fu trite nonsense but does little else, and there’s even a mad scientist thrown in.
From the hilarious bungle of these guys at an old folks’ home in the first ten minutes to the end, Mystery Men is a really funny satire of every superhero from Superman (“Lance is not Captain Amazing. One wears glasses, the other doesn’t!”) to Batman. Based on the Dark Horse comic characters, the guys here take bungles and bumbles to new and uproariously funny heights. There’s every conceivable plot elements from other superhero stories thrown in here – the token break up and make up, the token sacrifice factor – all thrown in in a nudge-wink slyness that is just inspired.
There’s also a sweet romance between Mr Furious and a waitress, as well as the inevitable ending where the losers would end up heroes of the day.
Underneath all the fun, however, there’s a heart. Mystery Men is like a paean to all dreamers in us, a tune that tells us that if we dream hard enough, we’ll succeed. And it is just so much fun as well.