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Mystery Men

Mystery Men (Video Release)
Mystery Men (Video Release)
27 in. x 41 in.
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Mystery Men was a 1999 comedy film directed by TV commercial director Kinka Usher. It starred William H. Macy, Ben Stiller, and Hank Azaria as a trio of lesser superheroes with fairly unimpressive superpowers who need to save the day. The film's two great strengths were considered to be the art direction and the dialog, much of which was improvised by the cast. Despite its list of stars, Mystery Men was widely considered to be a flop. The final gross - approximately $33,000,000 - covered just over half of its production costs.
In Champion City, a metropolis in a slightly altered reality, costumed crimefighters (many with somewhat mediocre 'powers') are in oversupply, to the point that most of them are looking for work. Three such individuals are The Shoveller (William H. Macy), whose ability was to wield a shovel extremely well; Mr. Furious (Ben Stiller), who had the 'ability' to get very, very angry; and The Blue Raja (Hank Azaria), a self-described "effete British superhero" who wears a green turban with no blue whatsoever in it and throws silverware (forks and spoons, but not knives - "I'm not Stab Man. I'm not Knifey Boy. I'm the Blue Raja") at villains with high precision. Their various efforts at crime-fighting - such as a robbery at an old-folks home - are hampered partly by the fact that no one takes them seriously and partly by their own basic incompetence. Each member battles his own basic insecurities - 'Eddie' (The Shoveller) must face the disrespect he receives from his skeptical wife; 'Jeff' (The Blue Raja) must keep his secret hidden from his suspicious mother; and 'Roy' ('Mr. Furious'), in reality a rather mild, gentle person despite his tantrums, must deal with his shy crush on Monica (Claire Forlani), a jaded but goodhearted cafeteria waitress.
A genuine superhero, however, is Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear), Champion City's most famous and respected superhero, who arrives in the nick of time guaranteed to save the day and hopelessly upstage the 'wanna-bes'. Despite this, Captain Amazing also has a problem: he is so good at what he does, he's putting himself out of business and is running out of supervillains to defeat. And when his public image suffers, so do his corporate sponsorships (his costume is covered with company logos, NASCAR style). As such, in his secret identity (Lance Hunt, distinguished from Amazing solely through his glasses - which seems to have fooled everyone else in the world except Mr. Furious) he secretly arranges the release of his greatest adversary, the insane, devillish Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush), from an insane asylum, hoping to revitalize his reputation by once again facing the criminal mastermind. Unfortunately, Frankenstein gets the drop on Captain Amazing (which is helped by the fact that Frankenstein is much cleverer), captures Amazing and, with the help of his henchmen the 'Disco Boys', led by Tony P. (Eddie Izzard), puts into motion a devious plan to destroy Champion City.
Ironically, the only people who can rescue Amazing are the mundane heroes; unable to do it alone, they audition through the many other (even worse) superheroes in Champion City until they manage to find The Bowler (Janeane Garofalo) who carries the skull, and soul, of her murdered father in a bowling ball which can fly; The Invisible Boy (Kel Mitchell) who could only become invisible when no one is watching, including himself; The Spleen (Paul Reubens), who thanks to a gypsy curse could aim his highly noxious flatulence with deadly precision; The Sphinx (Wes Studi), who can cut guns in half with his mind, but who as a mentor to the misfit superheroes, spends most of his time uttering cryptic but ultimately unhelpful aphorisms; the eccentric scientist Dr. Heller (Tom Waits) who invents strictly "non-lethal" weaponry such as the Tornado in a Can. Inspired by the Sphinx's 'teachings' and armed by Heller's weaponry, the team prepare to rescue Amazing, but not before Furious, feeling increasingly sidelined and ignored (mainly due to his being the only one to see through the Sphinx's various formulaic clichés), storms off in a huff. He is nonetheless talked into going back by Monica who - having previously treated the boorish, over-macho Furious' posturing with complete distain - sees and likes the real, gentle 'Roy' underneath.
Thus prepared, the superteam are ready to challenge Casanova Frankenstein's devious schemes; however, a bungled rescue attempt sees Captain Amazing fried to death in the most remarkably horrific manner imaginable by Frankenstein's doomsday device, which Frankenstein intends to turn onto the city. It soon becomes apparent that our heroes are the only ones who can save the day. Matters are not helped when Monica - having fallen in love with Furious - tells Furious to just 'be Roy'; unfortunately, this just leads Roy to the conclusion that his powers are pathetic and not real, and that he's not a real superhero. Plagued with self-doubt, the heroes nonetheless manage to storm Frankenstein's mansion and battle his various accomplices. As the machine devestates the city, Frankenstein produces Monica, whom he has kidnapped to assure that the heroes will not stop him. Driven into a genuine super-rage by this, Furious defeats Frankenstein in combat and leaves him to be destroyed by his own machine, which self-destructs when sabotaged by the heroes. Having saved the city and earned the admiration of their families, friends and fellow citizens, the heroes then turn to their next great challenge - finding a name for their team that's better than 'The Super Squad'.

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