View Full Version : Mystery Men

El Chuxter
07-21-2003, 05:55 PM
I saw this for the umpteenth time about a week and a half ago, and it gets better each time! This has got to be one of the best dark comedies of all time, and an awesome spoof of the 90s superhero flicks.

How can you hate a movie with Hank Azaria as a nerdy guy who pretends to be British and throws forks? Or William H Macy as a hero who "shovels well"? Or Janeane Garofalo in her finest performance ever as the screwball Bowler?

Who else loves this silly movie? :crazed:

Rogue II
07-21-2003, 06:16 PM
I thought it was pretty good. I own the tape, but I haven't bought the DVD yet. Another good one is The Specials. It is the "Spinal Tap" of the super hero genre.

Mr. JabbaJohnL
07-21-2003, 07:15 PM
I saw this a while back, very weird but very funny! I like the part when Ben Stiller asks about the watermelons on his feet :D

Can't forget the shrinking women's clothes. ;)

07-21-2003, 08:39 PM
"It feels like my pants are shrinking, too...."

I also loved it. :D

07-24-2003, 02:58 PM
I too have seen (repeatedly) and loved this movie. I had seen a few things about it before its release and was anxious to see it based on its premise. Then a friend of mine freaked when he saw some teaser promos! He was thrilled that the Mystery Men were going to be adapted to the big screen. I was rather taken aback by this, having had no prior knowledge of the characters. It turns out that the Mystery Men appeared from time to time in "Flaming Carrot", an independent comic of the 90's that enjoyed some critical and fan success in its day. Though I've never read any, I hear it is a fun book. The basic framework of the characters from the comics (as I understand it) was all that survived to the film. Much of the specifics were altered or rewritten for the screen and I think in this case it helped. There were fun aspects of some characters that were lost (the Spleen got his powers after swimming in Love Canal, the Shoveler actually found King Arthur's "singing shovel", etc.), but they would not translate well to a movie or a mass audience.

Something to bear in mind here is that Mystery Men predates X-Men by a year (roughly). Back when it came out (and the first news of X-Men was emerging) I adamantly contended that this was the film that paved the way for X-Men and (we can certainly hope) future super-hero team films. What came before were increasingly convoluted Batman films (well, after Schumacher took over anyway) that led to concerns that studios would not take on team projects as there were too many characters to focus on and the story would be lost. Mystery Men showed exactly how this could work. With no less than six prinicpal characters and at least three strong supporting characters, plus an army of incidental cast it could easily have been the most unweildy comedy since "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World"! Instead they got it right! Just enough exposition on many of the characters to establish their specifics and pletny of concentration on the action (and in this case comedy) at hand.

Is this to say that X-Men took all of its cues from Mystery Men? Not at all. There is little more than anecdotal evidence of any real influence of the one on the other. However, I still believe strongly that Mystery Men blazed the trail that X-Men and X-Men 2 followed. These films are large cast stories done right. And don't forget the Lord of the Rings films! Talk about massive potential to get out of hand! I loved the review that the Daily Show reviewer, Frank DeCaro, gave Fellowship of the Ring, most specifically his quote, "This movie's got more characters than the Bible!" I am hopeful that one day we will be graced with an Avengers and/or JLA movie. Unfortunatly with Marvel parceling out its corral of characters to various studios, a team up of characters who have enjoyed success as individuals (Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, etc.) seems unlikely as each character may be tied up in its license to different studios. This is where DC has the edge if Warner would get off of their laurels! Since Warner owns DC, the studio can produce films of characters solo and in groups even simultaneously! We can hope.

Anyway, if you have not seen this great gem of a movies, you really should. For what might easily have been one of those dogs that the studio ignored, Mystery Men delivers a lot on what was probably not the biggest budget for a sci-fi/fantasy picture that year. Great pains were given to the feel of the film. It was reminiscent of the Burton Batman films in its attempt to set its world apart from our own. The cityscapes are often dismal to the point that one would question who would want to live there! And there are all kinds of litte visual treats (like the decidedly non-U.S. coins in the restraunt donation box and the rifle case full of shovels in the Shovler's house). Even the design of the vehicles was such that there was no question that you were in a world unto itself. It was like Batman (Burton era) meets Blade Runner! I only wish Playing Mantis (manufacturers of the Jonny Lightning line of miniature die-cast cars and producers of the short-lived Mystery Men action figure line) had made Jonny Lightning cars of the Shoveler's station wagon, Cassonova Frankenstien's stretch Corvette, and the Herkemer Battle Jitney! THAT would be so cool next to my JL Mach 5 and Back to the Future DeLorean!

El Chuxter
07-24-2003, 03:16 PM
I found out a year or so after the fact that some company made figures, but they were the most dismal figures ever made! And I only saw about fifteen Captain Amazings on clearance. Maybe if I ever get good at customizing, I'll make my own Mystery Men.

I have to agree with you on the sets and background tidbits, though I never noticed the rack of shovels! I think one of the best bits is the pool party with all the heroes who are so ridiculous they make the Mystery Men look like the X-Men! "Waffleman! I am the Waffler! Brown and crispy, bad guys are history! Think about it. . . . By the way, do you have a health plan?"

It's a shame this movie didn't do better, since a sequel or maybe an "Adult Swim" cartoon would be perfect.

I was a little disappointed when I realized Tom Waits played crazy Doctor Heller. After hearing Cliegg Lars speak in AOTC, I thought that's who played Heller.

07-24-2003, 03:21 PM
It's brilliant.

07-24-2003, 03:40 PM
Great flick, hilarious.

07-24-2003, 05:58 PM
I was a little disappointed when I realized Tom Waits played crazy Doctor Heller. After hearing Cliegg Lars speak in AOTC, I thought that's who played Heller.

I'd never made that connection, but I can see why you would have thought about it. They looked and sounded almost the same. You'd half expect Cliegg to send Anakin out to hunt the Sandpeople with a Blame Thrower!

Another fun tidbit about the movie is the tryout sequence you mentioned. The guy who played the Waffler (complete with Truth Syrup) ad-libbed all of his lines! And in addition to that, he ad-libbed the lines delivered by some of the other characters, giving them as suggestions to the actors as they waited to go before the POV shot camera. One of the best was PMS Avenger, totally unscripted! It appears that there was not much of a set script for that sequence and a lot of great things came out as a result of clever actors. One of my favorites is Pencil Head and Son of Pencil Head!

As for Playing Mantis' toys, there (I believe) first forray into action figures (and seemingly the last) was not the best in the world. The only really good one was Mr. Furious who has a faux leather jacket with fully painted flame details!

El Chuxter
07-24-2003, 06:54 PM
That whole sequence is funny. I had no idea the Waffler ad-libbed it like that! Who is that dude, and has he been in anything else?

How about, "I. . . am. . . Ballarina Man!"

Or, "I am the Bullfighter! I fight the bull!"

Or the two Wonder Women fighting? (Surprised DC didn't sue over that one!)

07-25-2003, 12:17 AM
I didn't like the movie that much, though I was still a bit high on Blade at the time (which is the real source of the current cinematic superhero rebirth) and still can't stand Ben Stiller being let loose on the camera and felt the story & directing were a bit too unfocused for my tastes. Mostly it was Stiller though.

But I did buy the only Janeane Garofalo action figure that I know of when the line hit stores, The Bowler doesn't even look that much like her but the ball is cool and come on, it's Janeane!

07-27-2003, 11:34 AM
I didn't like the movie that much, though I was still a bit high on Blade at the time (which is the real source of the current cinematic superhero rebirth)

JT makes a good point about Blade signaling the rebirth of the super-hero genre that the Batman franchise very nearly killed. Mystery Men by no means relaunched the genre, but it was instrumental in proving that a group picture was possible. Again I have to site the dreadful Batman & Robin as an example of an arguement against a group picture. Though Batman is usually considered a solo character, or at the most is teamed simply with Robin, the final installment and nail in the Batman coffin that started with Batman Forever featured a potentially unweildy cast of characters that proved to live up to that potential. The mishandling of such a large group of characters in a single story easily could have put studios off to making movies like X-Men. I simply posit that Mystery Men served as the other side of a coin. Batman & Robin being a group picture done wrong, Mystery Men a group picture done right.

I rewatched Mystery Men last night for the first time in quite some time and rediscovered my fondness for this movie. So many little nuances make it far greater than the sum of its parts. Plus you can't go wrong with a guy who can cut guns in half with his mind!