Anyone can be a super hero, all you need is a clever gimmick.
This pearl of wisdom comes not from my years parading about town as
"Fondue Man", but rather from the recent "Let's throw in as many stars
as we can fit and see if anything sticks" flick, Mystery Men.
The plot of Mystery Men is so simple, it's as if it came from a comic
book. (It did.) Major Superhero is kidnapped, and it's up to a rag-tag
team of not-so-superheroes to save him from the clutches of the evil
Not to be confused with the various "Major political figure is
kidnapped, and it's up to a rag-tag team of local police to save him"
films, nor the many "Major rich person is kidnapped, and it's up to a
rag-tag team of not-so-rich people to save him" films. Basically, don't
confuse this baby with any film starring any rag-tag team of anything.
OK, so the plot's nothing new. This movie's got a hook. And that hook
is the wonderfully silly world of the superhero.
Think Superman's full of himself? Think Batman needs to "get over it?"
Then these heroes are for you. They're everyday people. Most of their
super-powers are about as super as Aunt Cleo's fruitcake. Sure they
want to save the world, but that's only because of all the endorsement
opportunities waiting in the wings. The leader of this rag-tag team is
Ben Stiller as Mr. Furious. He's a guy who gets really, really angry.
His fellow crime-fighters include The Shoveler (a guy with a shovel),
The Bowler (a woman with an incredible bowling ball), the Blue Raja (an
Indian fork thrower with a British accent) and The Invisible Boy (who's
only invisible as long as no one is looking at him.)
The highlight of the film is the wonderful cast. Aside from Stiller, it
includes William H. Macy, Janeane Garofalo, Hank Azaria, Greg Kinnear,
Geoffrey Rush, Paul Reubens (The Artist formerly known as Pee-Wee) Tom
Waits and Wes Studi. Not often you get a comic-book parody starring two
Academy-Award nominees (Macy and Kinnear) and one winner (Rush.)
What ends up being created is a film filled with little moments of
hilarity. Each actor is quite funny in his or her role, and they each
have some wonderful lines, but it's as if they're acting in a vacuum.
Look at me! I'm funny now! OK, I'm done, let me know when I get to be
It doesn't help that the uber-villian's diabolical plot is to, uhm, he
wants to -- I dunno, kill some people. Destroy the city. Party all
night long. Something like that. And while it's very funny to be
introduced to the various villains (On my left, the Disco Boys, on my
right, The Frat Boys, etc.), seeing these one-joke villains try to carry
a scene is lame. They're like the last panel on a comic strip: funny,
but there's no where to go, so the next day's strip will probably start
Still, the movie is not a total loss. If you loved comic books as a
kid, then you'll probably love Mystery Men. It's a great flick for
ex-comic geeks. If you always thought comic books were for the total
losers in your 3rd-grade class, then you're really not the target
audience here, so you can skip this baby and move on.
Plus the director is Kinka Usher. Kinka Usher! Is that a great name or
what! Kinka Usher! Say it out loud, Kinka Usher. I just like
writing it over and over. Kinka Usher. Kinka Usher. Kinka Usher.
Me, I'm giving Mystery Men 3 2/3 Babylons. Which probably tells you
more about my childhood than I'd like you to know.
Once upon a time the SMC would have thought that Mystery Men was the
best movie to come out since Deep Rising. I think that he was
disappointed because he expected to see Ben Stiller in Underoos.
Directed By: Kinka Usher
Starring: Ben Stiller, Arthur Curry, William H. Macy, Eddie Izzard,
Clark Kent, Janeane Garofalo, Bruce Wayne, Hank Azaria, Greg Kinnear,
Linda Danvers, Billy Batson, Geoffrey Rush, Peter Parker, Dr. David
Banner, Paul Reubens, Wally West, Ricky Jay, Tom Waits, John Henry
Irons, Kel Mitchell, Kyle Rayner and Wes Studi.
OK, if you've been paying attention, you'll notice that I named a whole
lot of people in the cast list. Well guess what, NOT ALL OF THEM ARE
ACTORS! I have included a large number of famous comic book superhero
secret-identities in the mix. Email me at
with a list matching the secret identities to the superhero and you
could win a Brunching Shuttlecocks T-Shirt!
All entries must be received via email by 4 PM, Wednesday, Sept. 29.