Directed By: Kinka Usher
Starring: Ben Stiller, Janeane Garofalo, William H. Macy
Tag line: "We're not your classic heroes, we're the other guys"
Trivia: At one time, Danny DeVito was set to direct as well as star as The Shoveller
Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear), the most famous superhero in all of Champion City, is in danger of losing his corporate sponsors. Sure, he's brought peace and order to the fair city, but unfortunately for him, happiness doesn't sell nearly as well as mayhem does. So, to appease his financiers, Captain Amazing arranges for the premature release of his arch-enemy, Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush), who's been rotting away in a Champion City mental facility for 20 years. But when Casanova Frankenstein gets the upper hand on Captain Amazing, it's up to a trio of lesser-known superheroes, Mr. Furious (Ben Stiller), The Shoveler (William H. Macy) and The Blue Raja (Hank Azaria), to save the day.
The colorful characters who populate the world of Mystery Men are an interesting crew, to say the least. In the film's opening scene, the arrogant and self-serving Captain Amazing (played wonderfully by Greg Kinnear) must come to the aid of Mr. Furious, The Shoveler and the Blue Raja, who bit off more than they could chew when they took on Red Eye (Artie Lange), a baddie who crashed a party at the Champion City retirement home. As we soon discover, this trio of bottom-tier do-gooders isn't exactly the most talented bunch you'll ever meet. Hank Azaria's Blue Raja, who wears a turban and speaks with a British accent, flings his mother's (Louise Lasser) cutlery at his enemies, but only the forks and spoons (he's morally opposed to throwing knives). The Shoveler usually gets one or two good whacks in with his shovel, but very rarely does he get three, while Mr. Furious has no discernible skills whatsoever. So, when it comes time to rescue Captain Amazing, they're gonna need all the help they can get. Looking to sign up some new recruits, they turn to a handful of other so-called "heroes", like the teenage boy (Kel Mitchell) who claims he has the power to make himself invisible, but only when nobody's looking. Then there's Spleen (Paul Reubens), whose noxious flatulence, launched at his enemies whenever someone pulls his finger, is effectively disgusting, and The Bowler (Janeane Garofalo), who wields a magic bowling ball that houses the skull of her deceased father. Throw in a gun-toting disco henchman (Eddie Izzard), a weapons dealer who deals only the "non-lethal" variety (Tom Waits) and a German arch-criminal with gold fingernails (Geoffrey Rush, in a tour-de-force performance), and you have a movie packed tight with a slew of fascinating characters.
Mystery Men does have its weaknesses; many of the jokes fall flat, and a scene where the three main heroes host a barbeque to recruit some new talent was a real missed opportunity (not one of the 'recruits' was even remotely interesting). But with so many intriguing “heroes” to command your attention, my guess is you'll barely notice these shortcomings. Watching the entire cast interact with one another, in all their inept glory, makes the film's nearly 2 hour run time seem to fly by.