Cultwatch! Mystery Men

It’s time for a look at another movie that maybe wasn’t a big hit but has a devoted fan base of its own.

Yes, Cultwatch! is back as Jimmy and Tom cover the 1999 superhero comedy Mystery Men.

Mystery Men

jimmy:  Well, one thing was not a mystery. Ms Impossible liked it so much she took a nap.

tomk:  This feature has not been good for your relationship from the sounds of things.

jimmy:  I’ve mostly watched them on my own anyway. Cabin In The Woods was failed attempt #1 to watch with her. Thought this might be ok being a comedy, but a bit too “stupid comedy” for her. She was killing herself laughing earlier at Bridget Jones’ Baby…that’s more her speed.

tomk:  Huh.

Hook her up with Ryan’s wife or something for the RomComWatch! feature.

jimmy:  Heh

So, what did you think? I assume we’ve both seen it before, but probably the first time for me since it was in theaters almost 20 years ago.

tomk:  Oddly enough, I think it’s the first time I’ve seen the whole thing since I saw it in theaters almost 20 years ago.

And I liked it. I didn’t love it. It’s quirky and unique and has some nice one-liners and really solid cast.

jimmy:  Agreed.

It walks a fine line between very stupid bad and being stupid good.

tomk:  If you walk that fine a line, it will be a fine line for you to walk.

jimmy:  Nicely done.

tomk:  Yeah, I probably can’t do too many of those, for those of mine would be too many.

jimmy:  Heh. You know, for a guy whose intro was using his mind to slice guns in half…The Sphinx didn’t really do a whole lot else outside of motivational mantras.

tomk:  But he’s awfully mysterious.

jimmy:  More mysterious than Ballerina Man.

tomk:  Yes.

And for a cast full of comedians, I found myself thinking Wes Studi, who’s done more drama than comedy, might have given the funniest performance.

jimmy:  I had to look up who that was, but yes, he was good. The rest were good too if not over the top at times.

tomk:  Yeah, well, he was funnier than Dane Cook.

jimmy:  The Waffler?

tomk:  Yes

Of course, I might have meant it about Dane Cook in general.

jimmy:  That’s very true.

tomk:  Besides, I was more impressed by the presence of Doug Jones as Pencilhead.

jimmy:  Is that who that was? I can’t say I’d recognize Jones since he is usually covered in prosthetics.

tomk:  True, but he sure is distinctive. Not like the Sphinx who is only terribly mysterious.

jimmy:  If you wear a mask to hide your face, your face will be hidden by a mask. I’m not very good at this.

tomk:  In Soviet Russia, this is good at you.

Wait, that isn’t right…

jimmy:  Well, we had more eyeballs bulging out. Are you SURE this is not some kinda thing for you?

tomk:  I wouldn’t have thought so, but here we are.

jimmy:  You know, for a comedy, I can really only think of one time that I really laughed out loud…and I can’t even remember at what that was.

tomk:  Truly memorable moment.

I thought it was amusing. Nothing I would laugh out loud, but still funny.

jimmy:  Agreed. Funny, but not laugh out loud funny. Amusing is a good word.

Related question: is this an homage to superhero movies, or making fun of them? Keep in mind it was 1999, the year before X-Men really kicked off the modern superhero era.

tomk:  It was probably a parody of a genre that hadn’t taken off yet. It has a similar design to the Schumacher Batman movies.

jimmy:  Both of which were out a few years previous to this. And if anything, you could replace the word “movies” with “comics”. Which is really where the archetypes come from.

tomk:  Like how Captain Amazing can’t be Lance Hunt. Lance Hunt wears glasses.

jimmy:  Haha, that was amusing. I liked when they were trying to rescue him and WHM was holding up the two rings to see what CA looked like if he did have glasses on.

tomk:  I liked how Greg Kinnear was listed twice in the closing credits as if Captain Amazing and Lance Hunt were two different people.

jimmy:  Nice. I never noticed that.

tomk:  It was a subtle joke. The cast list had characters grouped by type. So heroes were listed first, then villains, then different gang types and so forth. Kinnear is listed as a hero as Captain Amazing and under civilians as Lance Hunt.

jimmy:  Ah. I did notice the groupings, but didn’t pay close enough attention to the cast list. Speaking of which…whatever happened to Claire Forlani? I had to look her up because I couldn’t even remember her name. Just that she looked really familiar.

tomk:  She was kinda big at the time. I went to see the movie with a friend who had no interest in superheroes and he was pleased by two things: Claire Forlani being in the movie and the Shoveler being in an interracial marriage.

jimmy:  Once I looked her up, I was like “oh yeah”. She was big at the time. But then just seemed to disappear. Anywho.

The interracial marriage stood out as well. And it wasn’t played in any way shape or form as anything other than man and wife.

tomk:  Which is something that just didn’t happen much at the time in movies.

It was a time when they could play that Smashmouth song and people would like it unironically.

jimmy:  I like that song. Maybe I’m in the minority.

tomk:  I like it too, but it did get overplayed for a while there. Thanks a heap, Shrek.

jimmy:  Well, that is true.

Question…did Captain Amazing have any powers? All I saw was a jet pack and endorsement logos.

tomk:  You know, I’m not sure.

jimmy:  He kicks ass at the beginning, but that just shows he’s a good fighter.

tomk:  And the Red Eye gang were kinda pathetic.

jimmy:  And the Mystery Men 1.0 still got their asses handed to them.

tomk:  They were even more pathetic.

jimmy:  I actually questioned if any of them had actual powers. The Bowler probably had the most legitimate power. Outside of well placed flatulence. And some assumed invisibility. (Which was actually pretty clever.)

And Sphinx supposedly cut the guns in half with his mind…but did nothing else.

tomk:  Mr. Furious might have some powers when he is legitimately angry and not just pretending.

And the Sphinx’s main power is being mysterious.

jimmy:  Maybe. And maybe not even the Bowler…as it was the ball did all the actual work.

tomk:  Don’t mess with Carmine.

jimmy:  And none of the villains were super-powered. Unless growing long fingernails and disco fighting were super powers in the 90’s.

tomk:  They were not. Nor was being Michael Bay a superpower.

jimmy:  LOL. I didn’t even realize he was the frat boy.

Here’s Michael Bay

tomk:  He wanted to bring the brewskis.

jimmy:  But of course!

tomk:  I do love the way Geoffrey Rush underplays that line.

jimmy:  Yes, great delivery.

tomk:  Rush is the rare actor who looks comfortable in both Oscar bait films and silly popcorn flicks.

Sometimes coming out the same month.

jimmy:  I was just thinking about that. He’s done his share of both. He’s great in the Pirates films as well…even if 4/5ths of them are utter garbage.

tomk:  Someone had to be.

Would you believe this was the director’s only movie?

jimmy:  Oh? Who was the director?

tomk:  His name is Kinka Usher. Mostly a director of TV commercials, but you know how I try to find some videos on our movies for this stuff. Well, Mystery Men didn’t have a good one, but the one I did find mentioned that Usher was so frustrated putting this movie together he went back to commercials. Apparently, getting all the egos in the room to play nice didn’t work as everyone wanted more screentime.

jimmy:  I was going to write something about it being a large accomplished cast…but stopped myself. Was it really? Stiller was coming off There’s Something About Mary, but hadalmost nothing before it (outside of a TV following). WHM had a list of credits, but has never been a box office draw. Claire Forlani was “hot”, but really only had a small roll in The Rock and a “hit” in Meet Joe Black. Azaria was a nobody. Garafalo had some memorable rolls, but was hardly a draw. Reubens was a recognizable face, but no draw. Rush had the accolades, but was no draw. Similarly Kinnear.

I guess that is a lot of mouths to feed and potential egos to massage.

tomk:  Rush, Macy, and Kinnear all had or would soon have Oscar nominations if nothing else. Garafalo was a frequent co-star in Stiller’s movies and had a decent movie career going at the time. Azaria probably was still recognizable from The Birdcage.

They may not have been huge, but there were all recognizable, and that’s before you go deeper into the cast for the likes of Eddie Izzard.

jimmy:  Forgot about Birdcage. Not that he was the main star. And I can see Izzard being a handful.

tomk:  Azaria got a lot of accolades for The Birdcage as a scene stealer.

And the Invisible Boy was half of Keenan and Kel!

jimmy:  Fair enough.

I don’t know who that is.

tomk:  It was a kid’s comedy show here in the States. They did make a movie.

jimmy:  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

tomk:

I can’t say I’ve seen more than that clip, and that clip is enough.

The other guy from that duo stays busy as an SNL cast member. Skip to the one minute mark:

jimmy:  I can’t.  (editor’s note:  the videos were blocked in Canada)

tomk:  Lucky you.

jimmy:  Back to the point, I guess it is easier to deal with animals and kids eating cereal than to placate to a bunch of movie “stars”.

tomk:  Probably.

I can’t get my cat to eat cereal, so I wouldn’t know.

jimmy:  Even with milk?

tomk:  Why would I have her with milk?

jimmy:  See, this is why you’re not a world famous commercial director.

tomk:  Like Kinka Usher?

jimmy:  Who?

tomk:  Didn’t he direct this movie?

jimmy:  If he did, I bet he never directed another.

tomk:  Would you?

If you had to deal with an angry Ben Stiller on your first big job, do you go for another one?

jimmy:  I wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.

tomk:  Well, it beats having a date with destiny after she ordered the lobster.

jimmy:  Though I do like lobster.

tomk:  Do you like paying for it?

jimmy:  I…do not.

tomk:  I think I see the problem here.

jimmy:  Well, we’re starting to get silly. Time to grade?

tomk:  Sure.

I’m gonna say 8 out of 10 cameos by magicians playing publicists who tell their heroic clients that they aren’t magicians.

And yes, that happened.

jimmy:  I’m going lower. 7 pull my fingers out of 10. I could go 7.5 if pressed. It’s perfectly watchable and passable, but nothing special. I wouldn’t go out of my way to watch it again.

tomk:  But I have the DVD, so I can if I ever want to.

Will I? I dunno. It’s no Army of Darkness.

jimmy:  Jenny will be happy to hear.

tomk:  I sometimes question Jenny’s taste.

But Watson’s took a lot of issue with The Last Jedi. Let’s try something else from Rian Johnson. Shall we give Looper a shot?

jimmy:  Is it better than Last Jedi?

tomk:  I don’t know! Let’s find out!

jimmy:  Is it better than Last Jedi?

tomk:  I don’t know! Let’s find out!

NEXT TIME:  Well, it looks like we’re going for another sci-fi that will hopefully not feature any weird eyeball action with 2012’s Looper.

tomk74

Defender of the faith, contributing writer, debonair man-about-town.

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