Revisiting MYSTERY MEN in a post-Avengers world

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Gaith, Nov 5, 2012.

  1. Gaith

    Gaith Vice Admiral Admiral

    May 11, 2008
    San Francisco, CA

    "We're not your classic heroes. We're the other guys."

    I revisited Mystery Men this past weekend for maybe the first time since its theatrical release, and definitely the first time in over a decade. I've always had fond memories of it, not only from quoting Mr. Furious' and the Sphinx's lines with friends, but also from the fact that a one-act play I wrote in my Junior year of high school was basically a riff on the movie, with a too-single liberalism-championing Batman type trying to get a date while confronting his evil nemesis once more. The mystery at hand (har, har): would it hold up?

    Happily, I can confidently answer this riddle with a delighted, "Oh, HELL yes."

    "He who questions training only trains himself at asking questions."

    Whoever thought of making William H. Macy a superhero deserves a key to the city. Ben Stiller's Mr. Furious is awesomely sarcastic, Hank Azaria's the Blue Raja is wonderfully loopy and all the other players are solid - Paul Reubens' perpetually flatulent moper was far less grating than I feared he'd be - but Macy is the truly the movie's soul. There's genuine, deeper poignancy in his fear of losing his wife and kids to his crime-fighting obsession than anything in Nolan's over-ballyhooed Bat-flicks.

    "Lucille, God gave me a gift. I shovel well. I shovel very well."

    "Honey, you shovel better than any man I've ever known, but that does not make you a superhero."

    Meanwhile, when Green Lantern came out last year, people desperate to find something nice to say about it admired the moment in which the girl recognizes the Hal Jordan despite his mask, which didn't even extend below the nose. I eventually saw this clip after hearing it praised many times over, and was sorely disappointed: the scene starts a good ten-fifteen seconds prior, before she starts recognizing him in spite of his non-disguise, thus ruining the gag. I mean, Superman Returns had a better meta-moment on seeing through the alter ego, but I don't think anything can top Mystery Men's take:

    The Shoveller: If we had a billionaire like Lance Hunt as our benefactor...

    Mr. Furious: That's because Lance Hunt IS Captain Amazing!

    The Shoveller: Oh, don't start that AGAIN. Lance Hunt wears glasses; Captain Amazing DOESN'T wear glasses.

    Mr. Furious: He takes them off when he transforms...

    The Shoveller: That doesn't make any sense; he wouldn't be able to see!

    It's hilarious because it goofs on both the disguise and those fooled by it, plus Macy's simultaneously hurt and indignant denial takes it to a whole extra level.

    Shout-outs are also due to Geoffrey Rush and his delicious accent, Greg Kinnear's first-rate Captain Amazing, Wes Studi's Sphinx and Tom Waits' Heller.

    Random further observations:

    - I liked how at no point does Jeanine Garafolo get prettied/dolled up, and her acidity is genuinely bracing throughout, especially when she ad-libs her thanks to indie movie supporters at the end of a big, loud wannabe-blockbuster.

    - I also have to give a shout-out to the fact that the blackness of Macy's wife and kids are in no way noted/commented on.

    - The script is tighter than I'd expected, with plenty of satisfying setups and payoffs.

    - The art direction is always interesting, and at times awesomely weird, never more so than in the trippy nursing home bash.

    - I like that the Sphinx actually accompanied them on the big mission. Wasn't expecting that.

    - Got a big laugh out of the fact that the only recognizable character from actual pop culture is Wonder Woman... portrayed by two amateurs at the superhero audition, who get into a cat fight, presciently casting doubt on the heroine's big-screen potential.

    In short, this is a fun and funny flick that plays even better in our current superhero movie glut/golden age. It's a high-energy, zany comedy that remains Michael Bay's best film. (Even though he only cameos.) Finally, I can't believe I forgot the following immortal words, which I'll just have to always recall henceforth:
    "We've got a blind date with destiny... and it looks like she's ordered the lobster."

    Grade: A-
  2. MetroKid

    MetroKid Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Feb 2, 2007
    I love this movie, I watch it once or twice a year. The humor is spot on and I think people who don’t appreciate the movie simply just don’t get the jokes.
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Mar 15, 2001
    I was surprised to learn that this wasn't an original concept, but an adaptation of characters from Bob Burden's indie Flaming Carrot Comics, albeit with the Carrot himself removed.
  4. D Man

    D Man Commodore Commodore

    Apr 14, 2004
    Tropical Minnesota
    Great movie! I don't remember the exact quote, but my favorite bit has always been Kel Mitchell with "Hey Dad, I'm going up to my room with 3 strange men!"
  5. trekkiebaggio

    trekkiebaggio Vice Admiral Admiral

    Jul 20, 2004
    Dancing to the Jailhouse Rock
    It's one of my favourites, very underrated.
  6. Tom

    Tom Vice Admiral Admiral

    Nov 10, 2003
    In your Mind!
    Love this movie!
  7. ITL

    ITL Vice Admiral Admiral

    Nov 27, 2004
    Palace Of The Brine
    Captain Amazing: I knew you couldn't change.
    Casanova Frankenstein: I knew you'd know that.
    Captain Amazing: Oh, I know. And I knew you'd know I'd know you knew.
    Casanova Frankenstein: But I didn't. I only knew that you'd know that I knew. Did you know that?
    Captain Amazing: (clears throat) ... Of course.

  8. marillion

    marillion Vice Admiral Admiral

    Sep 3, 2003
    Making days brighter here in New Mexico
    Definite thumbs up.. Saw this in the theater a couple of times.. The wife never quit got it, but that's ok.. It's taken her a while to warm to Dr. Who too.. Great lines and direction all around.. And while I generally don't like Jeanine Garafolo, she was perfectly cast in this..
  9. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2001
    Kansas City
    I loved Captain Amazing's suit being filled with corporate logos. Basically making him Booster Gold.
  10. Stiletto

    Stiletto Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jan 10, 2002
    And what an excellent name for the bad guy "Casanova Frankenstein"
  11. lurok

    lurok Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Mar 15, 2011
    Lost in the EU expanse with a nice cup of tea
    ^ ditto. Love this film. Rush and Izzard especially, and Garofalo, but the entire cast is great. I think it's one of those rare action comedies/satires that actually works, along with Tropic Thunder. Even Michael Bay is pretty funny in it. And that's saying something. Would love a sequel.
  12. Mr. Adventure

    Mr. Adventure Admiral Admiral

    Jun 9, 2001
    Mr. Adventure
    I'm feeling a real urge to rewatch this...
  13. Kai "the spy"

    Kai "the spy" Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Feb 7, 2011
    Disco is not dead! Disco is LIFE!
  14. Aldo

    Aldo Admiral Admiral

    Jan 4, 2003
    Hyrule Castle
    I didn't take to this when I first saw it. But perhaps it's time for a rewatch.
  15. the G-man

    the G-man Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Oct 22, 2010
    to your immediate right
    Yeah, in fact, how great would Kinnear have been playing Booster back in the day?
  16. The Lensman

    The Lensman Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Apr 27, 2001
    Milky Way Galaxy
    Yep! As someone who was an avid reader of Flaming Carrot, and as someone who's favorite issues were the Mystery Men two parter, I was a little let down with the movie. In the movie, they didn't come off as the 2nd string, blue collar, mill town heroes as well as in the comics. Plus, the second of that two parter was hilarious, especially once they hit the bars and started getting drunk.

    The movie felt off to me for the usual reasons: most of The Mystery Men weren't in it (C'mon, no Bondo Man?), the ones that were didn't look like their comic counterparts, nor did they act like them much. Mr. Furious is a dork who thinks getting angry gives him powers vs. the bad ass who's already pissed off all the time?

    Still, I enjoyed it for what it was and I certainly wouldn't mind revisiting thanks to this thread. Was a little let down that they didn't work Flaming Carrot in somehow, some little in joke or something.

  17. Haggis and tatties

    Haggis and tatties Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Dec 27, 2002
    One of my fave movies......i would have loved a sequal.
  18. Hugo Rune

    Hugo Rune Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jan 7, 2005
    Interview Room 2
    This, like Galaxy Quest from the same year, is a wonderful spoof homage to its (at times) over-earnest medium.

    Both are sharply written, both are filled with engaged actors, and both understand what they are meant to be - nothing but fun.

    I don't need to see follow ups to either, as both hit all the targets they were aiming for. Anything more would be redundant.

    - I don't need a compass to know which way the wind shines / By Grapthar's hammer... what a savings.
  19. Mr. Adventure

    Mr. Adventure Admiral Admiral

    Jun 9, 2001
    Mr. Adventure
    Dug this out of storage. I was really surprised to see C-Lo Green in there. What a great cast though and the odd setting and kitschy costuming and bright colors always keeps things interesting visually. Lots of funny lines in there hidden by their throwaway delivery. Plus Michael Bay as a frat boy.
  20. Gaith

    Gaith Vice Admiral Admiral

    May 11, 2008
    San Francisco, CA
    Agreed. In spoof movies, the good jokes are often used up the first time around. There may have been a few okay gags in the Austin Powers sequels, but who in their right minds would want to watch one of them instead of the original today?

    Similarly, while not as clearly a spoof movie as the aforementioned, while I'd definitely be interested in seeing a Hot Rod 2, it's probably just as well its poor box office means there'll never be one.