Mystery Men (1999)

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Welcome to Champion City, an atypical backdrop for this movie based on the Dark Horse Comic series of the same name. This story focuses on underdog superheroes that fight for justice, but never get the spotlight. This time the team of The Shoveler (William H. Macy), Mr. Furious (Ben Stiller), and Blue Raja (Hank Azaria) are on the scene when the Red Eye gang attempts a robbery at a grand ball in a nursing home. Even for a villainous gang, this robbery seems lame, but the trio takes on the bad guys with little success, but they are upstaged when the town’s most celebrated superhero, Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear) comes in to save the day. Little does the trio know that the good Captain is not all about justice these days, but trying to save his image. The Red Eye Gang robbery is a setup by Amazing and his publicist to gain some new publicity. Shoveler, Raja, and Furious encounter Dr. Heller, a weapons developer who says he can up their game with his inventions. He is tired of seeing the misfits doing all the work while guys like Amazing get all the credit. The trio is polite, but regard Heller as a hack. They go to their favorite diner to reflect on the night’s happenings, and still can’t figure out how Amazing still manages to do the things he does.

While at the diner, Amazing and his publicist go over the night’s events as well, and realize the setup was pathetic, and that some of Amazing’s sponsors are doubting his work and looking to drop his endorsements. They go over the names of the super-villains Amazing has fought over the years, trying to find one who might still be alive, and living locally. Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush) is currently in the town’s asylum, and Amazing considers a way to bring Frankenstein back into society. Later, he is released, but even Frankenstein does not know why. He gathers together his most loyal goons, The Disco Boys, back at his old Gaudi-style mansion, and they are looking for new ways to take down their nemesis, Amazing, and control of the town.

Furious does some independent investigating, and finds out later that Frankenstein has tricked Amazing and is now being held in the Frankenstein mansion as a prisoner. With Amazing temporarily out of picture as a crime fighter, the trio decide they need to rescue him, but that they cannot do it alone. Furious is always in doubt to the decisions made by Shoveler and Raja, but he cannot get past their combined stubbornness. They look for other underdog superheroes to help them out, and meet with Invisible Boy (Kel Mitchell) who gets into the town’s network of crimefighters. They meet later with The Spleen (Paul Reubens), whose superpower is accurate flatulence.
They have a tryout barbecue, which turns out to be a disaster, but at the end, they meet The Bowler (Janeane Garofalo), who uses her bowling skill and a ghostly bowling ball as her weapon. Later, The Disco Boys attempt a gun massacre on the team, but are foiled by the very wise and quick Sphinx (Wes Studi), who becomes the team’s guide and teacher. Heller becomes their supplier of non-lethal super-weapons, which turn out to be move effective than any mere gun would be.

We also see within the personal lives of Shoveler, Furious, and Raja in their everyday jobs and family lives, and how their crime-fighting affects those who know and love them. Shoveler’s wife, Lucille (Jenifer Lewis) is supportive, but has about had it with his empty dream. Raja still lives with his suspicious mother, Violet (Louise Lasser), who thinks her nerdy son might be doing drugs, and Furious is developing a relationship with the new diner waitress, Monica (Claire Forlani), but it is off to a rocky start, and Frankenstein and the Disco Boys will use Monica as part of their plan to taken down the team later on.

This is a fun roller-coaster ride of a superhero movie that never really focuses on one person, but the team in general, and it has some great 90s music in its soundtrack. There are funny moments, but they never take away story as a whole. This movie is just fun, and if you love the work of Dark Horse comics or superhero stories, you will really like it.

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