This listing is for Mystery Men VHS Video Tape 1999.
Actors: Ben Stiller, Janeane Garofalo, William H. Macy, Hank Azaria, Kel Mitchell
Directors: Kinka Usher
Writers: Bob Burden, Neil Cuthbert
Producers: Lawrence Gordon, Lloyd Levin, Mike Richardson, Robert Engelman, Steven Gilder
Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Special Edition, NTSC
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Number of tapes: 1
Studio: Universal Studios
VHS Release Date: May 16, 2000
Run Time: 121 minutes
Champion City is the home of one of the greatest superheroes of all time: Captain Amazing. Unfortunatly for him, his crime fighting skills have left him without any publicity left except for the odd toothpaste commercial. Reduced to fighting gangs at nursing homes and steadily loosing his sponsers, Captain Amazing comes up with a plan. Using his alterego, the millionaire Lance Hunt, he bids for the release of one of his favourite arch-villains to be released in the hopes of defeating him and gaining some much-needed recognition. Thus, Casanova Frankenstein is released.
But there is another level to the superhero regime: the Shoveller (whose weapon is various types of shovels), the Blue Rajah (who throws forks, has a fake British accent and still lives with his mum) and Mr Furious (whose power comes from his barely controlled temper and has trouble coming up with suitable comebacks) are all wannabe heroes, who usually emerge from a fight with black eyes. Yet when Captain Amazing goes missing, they agree that it's up to them to stop Casanova and rescue the city from whatever terrible scheme he's cooking up.
To do this, the boys need reinforcements: after a rather dismal audition for new recruits to the team, the trio install the Bowler, whose murdered father's skull she keeps incased in a bowling ball, the Spleen whose power comes from the awful potency of his flatulence, and the Invisible Boy...who can only turn invisible when no one's looking at him. Rounding it off is the Sphinx, who takes the superheroes in for some physcho-babble training ("control your power, or your power will control you", and so on), and Professor Heller, who provides the team with the non-lethal weapons he invents. Its a somewhat troubled team, but one that has the rousing speeches and slow-motion walk down cold - they just might pull this off!
In my opinion, "Mystery Men" is hilarious, and is the long awaited spoof of superhero comics that we've been waiting for. The reason the humour works so well is in the performances of the top-notch cast, who perform with such seriousness that even the most rediculous moments come across as likely senarios. There are many moments from comic books that are easily familiar, such as the Shoveller's inability to believe Furious's theory that Lance Hunt and Captain Amazing are one and the same because: "Lance Hunt wears glasses. Captain Amazing *doesn't* wear glasses. He wouldn't be able to see!" Likewise, the good guys' distain at the evil henchmen who don't even have a theme to their costume and the many wannabe-heroes that turn up to the audition are continously funny.
Ben Stiller and Janeane Garofalo in particular carry their roles across with droll humour, and Geoffry Rush looked as if he had the time of his life playing the evil Casanova Frankenstein. All the characters, such as the Shoveller's long-suffering wife, Furious's waitressing love interest, and the Rajah's mother fit into the movie perfectly, creating a "real" backdrop for the heroes to work against. It won't be everyone's cup of tea, and I admit that certain scenes (such as the fork-sitting, Spleen's farting and the skunk encounter) could have done with a little editing, but it suited my sense of humour perfectly, and had just the right amount of mockery and reverence toward the comic book heroes that makes it one of my favourite spoof movies.
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