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Overall Rating

Awesome: 17.33%
Worth A Look44.67%
Average: 25.33%
Pretty Bad: 6.67%
Total Crap: 6%

14 reviews, 66 user ratings

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Mystery Men
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by Thom

"A great little absurdist piece seasoned with subversion"
4 stars

I love this movie. There is so much going on in between the lines and that alone made this movie interesting for me. I mean, I liked the cast, and the aesthetic but I loved all the the little jabs at society, the media, corporate america, social attitudes, the logical extension of modern living in a paeon to "brazil", all of that.

If you have ever seen the movie "They Live" (John Carpenter) you will have some sense of how I watched this movie.

In THEY LIVE, aliens have wrapped subliminal messages in everything and a scientist invents special glasses that allows you to see past the illusion to the machinery underneath.

You need to wear those glasses to properly appreciate this movie.
First of all, you see hypocrisy - the superhero isn't really a hero. He's a chump out for himself. Fighting crime is not what he cares about, making money is. And his corporate sponsorship has made him a billionaire. Captain Amazing is anti-human.

Enter the "other guys". A motley gang of rag tag do it yourself superheroes who have yet to fully realize their superpowers. The intervention of The Sphinx as a Dr.Xavier type character, helps the other guys understand and use their unique talents individually and as a team.

The "other guys", unlike Captain Amazing, are selflessly trying to create a better, safer, more humane world. The plot twists when they accidentily psychofraculate (kill) Captain Amazing and Capital City is apparently left without its Superhero. The citizenry is not alarmed because they don't find out until after the the do-it-yourselfers emerge triumphant after destroying, archvillian Cassanova Frankenstein and thwarting his plan to psychofraculate all of Capital City.

Ding dong Captain Amazing is Dead.

And now, the real heroes, the ones who started saving the day when they toasted the "superhero" who was monopolizing the public attention because he was made to be the good guy by a smarmy publicist/manager, all of a sudden are left with the awesome privelege and responsibility to keep Capital City crime free. They wanted their piece of action and now they have the whole show.

When Captain Amazing is killed, Capital City did not lose a superhero as much as it lost its most blatant (yet unbeknownst to the blissfully ignorant citizens) symbol of hypocrisy. The person, who on the surface, looked like the protector of society, had sold out the safety of the citizenry for his own financial gain. His actions closely parallel the actions of a few corporate interests that have poisoned the environment and used exploitative labor practices for the short term monetary gain of a relative few. Or who have created illusions through mass media in the interest of commerce to sell products to the detriment of one's self-image, a healthy society, or responsibility to future generations.

Authenticity and truth is an important theme in Mystery Men.

Next Stop, Cassanova Frankenstein.

Cassanova was the random evil element. The one who thought that "nice guys finish last". He is a dangerous character, but he is overtly evil. You know what you are getting with Cassanova, whereas Captain Amazing would have you think that he was the good guy. I guess the people were safe from physical danger, but they did not really have all the facts. I mean, if you don't think that living with integrity or authenticity is important, then it probably doesn't matter to you if your understanding of reality is a carefully crafted illusion designed to make someone else money. Psychofraculation... think about it.

There is no love, no victory, no joy, no passion, except as it relates to marketing. Captain Amazing represents the image of humanity, whereas the Blue Raja, the Bowler, Mr.Furious, the Shoveler, the Spleen and Invisible Boy represent the substance of humanity.

Tom Waits' character represents the ethical stance of the true superhero. His character's role in "reclaiming society in the name of truth" uses weapons that turn the evil or the corrupt or the degenerate or the dysfunctional in people against themselves. He designed systems to use people as a weapon against themselves, their vanities, their greeds, their lusts. Tom Waits' character reinforces the underlying theme that real goodness is from the heart and it is a healing force. It is not a brand image or a public perception.

This movie is about living with truth, and integrity and a natural morality that stems from examining the aggregate consequences of one's actions. Is what you are doing making things worse? or better? do you hurt? or heal? Its also about being genuine. Not trying to pretend and just being who you are. It's about tolerance, self-acceptance, cameraderie and team work.

Maybe you'll like it just as well at face value, or maybe you'll like it because of the subtext. I think the subtext brings the face of it to life.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 08/26/99 19:59:05
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User Comments

1/01/20 dupadoit angel boy 4 stars
12/14/13 Mister Jimmy The super-hero auditions scene had me laffin my ass off! 5 stars
1/29/09 Nori This was one of those super corney awful movies that you absolutely loved. I enjoyed it. 5 stars
11/22/08 Shaun Wallner Great Film! 4 stars
9/14/08 nastyrabbit There's never been an ensemble cast with this kind of chemistry's PERFECT! 5 stars
12/06/07 Adrian BUT I AM SCARED OF THE SUZIES! 5 stars
4/16/07 Ne44FaSt Funny when they accidently psychofraculate Capt. Amazing 5 stars
7/29/06 David Cohen Speaks to the inner hero in all of us 4 stars
1/23/06 Indrid Cold I had heard that this is a lot funnier than you'd expect. It's true. 4 stars
5/03/05 dwarzel There are heroes/villains in the Marvel universe with MUCH lamer gimmicks than these. 4 stars
1/25/05 Jeff Anderson MY KIND OF UNIQUE SUPER HERO FILM! A great double feature with THE SPECIALS with Rob Lowe. 5 stars
9/05/04 DM Silly but perfect for your inner 10-year old 4 stars
6/08/04 Elen Sly and witty, and fun for comic book geeks and non-geeks alike. 5 stars
1/07/04 Phil M. Aficionado Bizarre. A gas. Great casting. Must have cost a FORTUNE to make 4 stars
4/13/03 Jack Sommersby Forced and uncouth nonsense. Stiller's panache is film's only asset. 1 stars
7/20/02 Bastard Child of Mother Teresa Pretty darn good! Fry in heck, gay man! 4 stars
5/16/02 Gerox Hooha! Janeane ownz me. 4 stars
11/03/01 Andrew Carden A Few Very Funny Scenes Are Overblowed With Special Effects. Stiller Looks Terrible. 3 stars
10/04/01 Monday Morning Do the HBS reviewers get paid to write all that or do they just have time to burn? 5 stars
10/03/01 Butterbean Stiller is corny, like always, but this movie put a smile on my face 3 stars
8/16/01 Dakamus Janeane Garafalo = Sexiest woman alive. 5 stars
8/07/01 Kasey Anderson I had to keep watching it over & over. WOW! 5 stars
3/02/01 dave funnier than I expected. Loved Jeanene. 5 stars
1/29/01 Jared Barber The best movie ever. Funny, and creative. 5 stars
4/20/00 Sergio Allen It really really Sucked I wanted my money back I almost walked out thats how much it sucked 1 stars
4/07/00 SID Why do they have superpowers at the end? Doesn't that contradict the whole movie? 4 stars
4/01/00 Mr Happy This movie was horrible shit. Not funny unless you from Newyork. 1 stars
3/29/00 Pat Spline is so funny 5 stars
3/08/00 David Rogers Pretty funny but it could have been better. 4 stars
3/06/00 Kyle Broflovski Gut-busting hilarious, with shades of The Thing in one particular scene...:-) 5 stars
2/08/00 Joel Harwood CLARE FORLANI IS Hot so 5 stars for her but the movie sux big time 2 stars
1/30/00 Steve Total unadulterated boring crap 1 stars
1/26/00 Katherine Hughes Humerous and enjoyable 4 stars
1/23/00 Kevin Cho At least 100 to the 10th power better than I thought it would be. U catch PW Herms in it?! 5 stars
1/23/00 Quintas Brilliant, hilarious, see it. 5 stars
10/14/99 Sara Phillips 5 stars
10/08/99 Theresa Wonderful, Hilarious! Among the best were Azaria, Macy, Garofolo, and Stiller 5 stars
9/27/99 Weird Andy Like sex with an ex-girlfriend,fun at the time, but ultimately a cheapening experience. 3 stars
9/14/99 Ratso Good job, they took a great cast and idea and made a piece of shit! 1 stars
9/04/99 Andel Crodo A disappointment if you expect a superhero movie, but a thrill if you expect a goof on them 4 stars
9/02/99 PhilmPhreak It was pretty cool - check it out 4 stars
8/27/99 Ah Dooey Okay for this type of movie. The characters were funny. 3 stars
8/22/99 Daelic I laughed. I groaned. Not great, but it was good fun. 4 stars
8/19/99 Admiral Crunch hey, at least it kicked Power Rangers in the butt 3 stars
8/19/99 Nessus Not as good as the old Tick comics, but pretty funny in spots. 4 stars
8/19/99 Geoff Unique. Watchable. Fun. A decent escape for 2 hours. 4 stars
8/18/99 KK I fell asleep halfway into it. Not even worth the price of a rental. 1 stars
8/17/99 Obi Wan Movie sucked! All funny scenes can be seen on the trailer! 2 stars
8/16/99 Temper One of the most halarious and wicked movies that I've seen in a few years! 5 stars
8/15/99 Mark Levin Hilarious send-up of formulaic comic-book superhero genre. 5 stars
8/15/99 Cage Against The Machine I was definately disappointed. 2 stars
8/14/99 jen Can't remember the last time I thought about walking out before the end credits... 1 stars
8/13/99 Mike Snell Laughed my ass off 4 stars
8/13/99 Roman has its moments 3 stars
8/12/99 PurityJustBegs this film is saturated with wonderful potential, but that is lost in time-weary cliches 3 stars
8/12/99 Michael Hodgman This movie is frickin great 5 stars
8/11/99 Cherry Very funny movie! 5 stars
8/11/99 kirk uhhh something to do for fun 3 stars
8/11/99 Michael Grimm if you like campy humor this movie is for you 4 stars
8/10/99 jenn "Blu Smrf" what a great movie, that is fun for both adults and kids alike 5 stars
8/10/99 Jo Jo, The Idiot Circus Boy The only thing that kept me from falling asleep was trying to imagine Garofalo nekked. 1 stars
8/10/99 Laz lighten up folks.this is a fun,hip ride.much better than expected. 5 stars
8/10/99 jvt Stiller was the only worthwhile character, a huge let down 2 stars
8/10/99 elfpunkt Paul Ruebens getting leghumped by a skunk was funny. The movie was not. 1 stars
8/10/99 Z it's funny, laugh! 5 stars
7/28/99 David Gilmour Reminiscent of the first two Batman movies and Bukaroo Bonzai. 5 stars
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  06-Aug-1999 (PG-13)


  13-Jan-2000 (PG)

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