Mystery Men

*1/2

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The only mystery is how a cast like this could make such a mess. The idea has legs. In comicbook land, superheroes are losing their cred. For one thing, there are no good bad guys any more. They are either dead or incarcerated.

Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear) argues with his agent about endorsements and insists on springing Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush) from the nut house so that he has a decent adversary to publicly humiliate.

Meanwhile, Mr Furious (Ben Stiller), The Shoveller (William H Macy), The Blue Raj (Hank Azaria) and a few others, like the girl who keeps her father's skull inside a bowling ball and the spotty bloke who farts, are wannabe superheroes. The joke is, they are useless.

The film doesn't know what it's doing, or where it's going. Rush must have been miscast on purpose. He looks about as scary as Whistler's mother and is surprisingly bad at panto villainy. Stiller wears male lead sexy gear, which only emphasises his lack of inches. As a small man trying to be angry, he is an embarrassment.

Macy was the second best thing in Fargo and is a superb support actor, specialising in repressed straight roles - remember Pleasantville? Bashing people over the head with a spade is not his scene. Wet spaniels look happier.

Azaria was the camp butler in The Birdcage. He's never less than interesting. The Blue Raj is potentially a funny character. He dresses in a turban, speaks with a phony English accent, throws forks and lives with his mom. Daft as a brush, he's left to get on with it. Get on with what? The farter stinks the place out and the bowler whacks her ball at people. Anarchy Rules OK?

Not OK. There has to be more to comedy than banana skins. There is. Tom Waits. He pops up as an inventor of non-lethal weapons. He should have sung a song.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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A team of useless superheroes try to save the day.
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Director: Kinka Usher

Writer: Neil Cuthbert

Starring: Hank Azaria, Ben Stiller, William H Macy, Geoffrey Rush, Janeane Garofalo, Greg Kinnear, Tom Waits, Paul Reubens, Claire Forlani, Eddie Izzard, Kel Mitchell

Year: 1999

Runtime: 120 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US

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