S.G. Browne

Movie Review Monday – Mystery Men

I don’t know many people who saw this film when it came out in 1999, which is reflected by it’s meager box office take. But just because a movie doesn’t make any money at the theaters doesn’t mean it’s not worth seeing. Most of the movies on my Top 10 List of All Time Favorite Films weren’t considered box office successes. And while Mystery Men isn’t on that list, if you enjoy fun characters and riffs on the superhero films, then you’ll enjoy this one.

Champion City has been virtually cleansed of criminals by the corporate-logo-clad Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear), who is frustrated because his publicist can’t get him anything better than a battle with The Red Eyes at an old age home. It doesn’t help that Pepsi has just dropped him as a sponsor and that he’s in danger of losing his other endorsement deals. So Captain Amazing’s alter ego, billionaire Lance Hunt, decides to help argue for the parole of his nemesis, Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush), so he can position himself for maintaining his sponsors and status. Unfortunately, Captain Amazing’s plan backfires and he’s captured by Casanova Frankenstein.

In the meantime, a trio of less-than-glamorous crime fighters – Mr. Furious (Ben Stiller), The Shoveler (William H. Macy), and the fork-flinging Blue Raja (Hank Azaria) – find themselves struggling for notoriety and respect. To improve their standing and help them to rescue Captain Amazing, they enlist the help of The Spleen (Paul Reubens), The Bowler (Janeane Garofalo), and Invisible Boy (Kel Mitchell).

With the help of the terribly mysterious and wisdom espousing The Sphinx (“He who questions training only trains himself at asking questions”), the group of ragtag superheroes takes on Captain Casanova and attempts to rescue Champion City’s superhero.

The dialogue is excellent, the casting pitch-perfect, and the art direction outstanding. Yes, the premise is somewhat silly and there are several minor plot issues but you’re not watching this film for it’s credibility or social commentary.

Put it on your Netflix queue.

Filed under: Movie Review Mondays,Movies and Books — Tags: — S.G. Browne @ 8:52 am


  1. I’m glad someone else came out in support of this movie, because my friends and I are bizarrely attached to it. You know when you have inside jokes that you’ve said for so many years you have no idea where they came from? We realized recently that a lot of those, for my friends and I, are quotes from Mystery Men. And, on discovering that, we realized we quote this movie on almost a daily basis. Not something you can say to just anyone, “I’m a capricorn, I like walks on the beach, and I quote Mystery Men, that box office flop from 1999, nearly everyday.”
    I’ve given into it though. The cast is brilliant and the writing is tight, sometimes moviegoers just don’t get the joke.

    Comment by Marian Librarian — January 18, 2011 @ 1:40 pm

  2. I did see it when it came out, and I’ve been re-watching it every couple of years since then. Hilarious! The Bowler talking to daddy’s skull inside the bowling ball may be my favorite part … XD

    Comment by Zuzana Urbanek — January 19, 2011 @ 5:47 am

  3. Well it’s good to know there are others out there who love and appreciate this film, too.

    I tend to believe that a lot of moviegoers are looking for the same formulaic films they’ve seen over and over because they’re comfortable. Like romantic comedies or action adventures or buddy cop films. You pretty much know how it’s all going to turn out and the stories are like the network situation comedies. It’s why good films and good television shows often don’t succeed. People want their humor dumbed down. My two cents.

    Comment by admin — January 19, 2011 @ 11:00 am

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