Mystery Men

Mystery Men

Ever wonder if there was a class system in the world of superheroes? After all the big names like Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, etc., who were the supporting players? The folks assigned to the less-than-stellar gigs of saving only a small part of the world? According to this intermittently successful send-up of comic book heroism, there are indeed masked heroes who struggle and toil for their moment in the super sun. Based on the Dark Horse comic book series, Mystery Men follows the travails of three B-list avengers--Mr. Furious (Ben Stiller), the Shoveler (William H. Macy), and the Blue Raja (Hank Azaria)--as they fight to make themselves known to the citizens of Champion City, quite difficult to do when the flashy Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear, never better) takes all the cool gigs and has product endorsements up the ying-yang. According to them, it's all a matter of timing--never mind that Mr. Furious never rises above a snit, or that the Blue Raja wears green. Their big break comes when Captain Amazing is abducted by the evil Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush), and it's up to this motley crew to save Champion City. Blessed with a wondrously gifted comic cast and full of droll details, Mystery Men struggles in fits and spurts towards its climax. Transcendently witty in parts, it's also woefully sophomoric in others. Literally, this is the kind of movie in which someone gets off a brilliant line and then sits on a fork. Still, when this movie is rolling, it's gleefully on target, thanks primarily to the mordantly cocky Stiller and Janeane Garofalo as a latecomer to the superhero gang; her secret weapon is a bowling ball in which her dead father's head is encased. The comic chemistry between these two is fierce, and when you add the dryly funny Macy and the endearing Azaria (who finally gets a chance to let loose with his comic gifts), it's a hilarious joyride. Too bad that the gas tank is only half-full; this stunning cast deserves a first-rate vehicle. With Tom Waits as a weapons expert, Claire Forlani as the requisite babe, and Paul Reubens as the Spleen, the world's most flatulent superhero. --Mark Englehart

Director(s): Kinka Usher
Production: Universal Pictures
  3 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)

[Rescuing Captain Amazing from Casanova's weapon of mass destruction]

Captain Amazing:
Now flip the second toggle.

The Bowler:
[Having already flipped on his instructions once] ... Again?

Captain Amazing:
What do you mean?

The Bowler:
Flip the toggle twice?

Captain Amazing:
No-no-no, don't do that, just flip it again, now, one time! Flip it.

The Bowler:
[To Mr. Furious] ... Does he understand what I'm asking?

Mr. Furious:
Hold on a second - Captain, exactly how many toggle flips in toto are involved in this procedure?

Captain Amazing:
[Flustered] I just - I - Seven!

Mr. Furious:
[Incredulous] Seven?!

Captain Amazing:
[A little hysterical] Flip it!!

[The weapon begins to hum omniously and increasingly loudly]

The Bowler:
Hold the phone! Everybody hold the phone. You phrased that incorrectly. We need to know how many toggle flips are needed not counting the gratuitous toggle flip you may have asked for in a moment of panic.

Captain Amazing:
[Very hysterical] FLIP IT!!!

Mr. Furious:
Okay, you know what, can we just start again? Is there like a reset button on this thing or something?

Captain Amazing:
No you little freak, there's no button for resetting! Flip the switch, lady! Don't look at me, lift your left arm and flip it, you moron!

The Bowler:
[Offended] Whoa! I am not a moron.

Captain Amazing:
You're a moron! You're a moron! Flip the switch, lady!

Mr. Furious:
[Gently rebuking] Hey, don't call her a moron, that's not cool...

The Bowler:
Thank you!

Blue Raj:
[Fed up] I'll do it! I'll do it! It's this one, yes?

The Bowler:

[Blue Raj flips the wrong switch - the weapon activates]

Captain Amazing:
Uh-oh - wrong switch.

[The weapon kills Captain Amazing in a horrific and grotesque fashion as the Mystery Men watch, appalled]

Mr. Furious:
... Everybody heard me say 'reset button', right?

Blue Raja:
[Horrified] Oh my God... Oh my God, we've killed him...

The Shoveler:
What do you mean, 'we'? I was right here.

[The Bowler approaches Amazing's fried, calcified and mutated corpse cautiously]

The Bowler:
I'm gonna check his pulse...

[She gently touches his wrist; it breaks off from his arm and smashes into pieces on the floor]

The Bowler:
... I don't think he's gonna pull through.

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    In which cartoon does this quote appear: "Rule number three, I can't bring people back from the dead. It's not a pretty picture. I don't like doing it!"?
    • A. Alice in Wonderland
    • B. Ice Age
    • C. The Jungle Book
    • D. Aladdin