Cult Movies

Cult Movie Essentials: Mystery Men (1999)

Mystery Men is a 1999 American superhero comedy film directed by Kinka Usher and written by Neil Cuthbert and Bob Burden, loosely based on Burden’s Flaming Carrot Comics. . The film details the story of a trio of lesser superheroes who form a team of heroes with unimpressive powers to save the day.

CAST

  • Hank Azaria as The Blue Raja/Jeff, a superhero that throws cutlery with great accuracy.
  • Claire Forlani as Monica, a waitress that becomes Mr. Furious’ girlfriend.
  • Janeane Garofalo as The Bowler/Carol, a superheroine with good bowling skills that wields a crystal bowling ball that contains the skull of her dead father Carmine the Bowler (who had died fighting the Disco Boys).
  • Eddie Izzard as Tony P., the leader of the Disco Boys.
  • Greg Kinnear as Captain Amazing/Lance Hunt, Champion City’s local superhero.
  • William H. Macy as The Shoveller/Eddy, a quarry worker-turned-superhero that wields a shovel.
  • Kel Mitchell as Invisible Boy, a superhero who can only become invisible if nobody is looking.
  • Lena Olin as Dr. Anabel Leek
  • Paul Reubens as The Spleen, a superhero who can break gas enough to make anybody who smells it faint.
  • Geoffrey Rush as Casanova Frankenstein, a criminal genius with an assortment of weapons.
  • Ben Stiller as Mr. Furious/Roy, a superhero that often gets enraged.
  • Wes Studi as The Sphinx, a mysterious superhero who can use his mind to cut guns in half.
  • Tom Waits as Dr. A. Heller, a mad scientist who aids the Mystery Men by making non-lethal weapons for them to lose.
  • Prakazrel Michel as Tony C.

PLOT (SPOILERS!)

In the metropolis of Champion City, the would-be superhero team of Mr. Furious, The Shoveler, and The Blue Raja attempt to make a name for themselves, but their suspect skills make them ineffective, and they find themselves upstaged by the city’s most successful superhero, Captain Amazing. However, Amazing is finding that his effectiveness at fighting crime has practically made his job obsolete, and without any worthy adversaries remaining (some of them are either dead, in exile, or still in jail), his corporate sponsors are beginning to pull their funding.

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To create a need for himself, Amazing uses his alter ego, billionaire lawyer Lance Hunt, to argue for the release of insane supervillain Casanova Frankenstein. The plan backfires; once reunited with Tony P and his Disco Boys, Casanova Frankenstein blows up the insane asylum, captures Amazing, and prepares to unleash a doomsday device: the “Psycho-frakulator”, which lethally bends reality. Mr. Furious, while spying on Casanova Frankenstein’s mansion, discovers Amazing’s capture and informs the others.

After an unsuccessful rescue attempt, the three realize they need more allies, and through word-of-mouth and try-outs, they recruit The Spleen, Invisible Boy, and The Bowler. The newly formed team “assaults” Casanova, which only succeeds in annoying him and damaging his car. While drunk from celebrating their victory, the team is nearly killed in retaliation by Tony P and the Disco Boys, but they are saved at the last minute by the Sphinx. The Sphinx trains them, but his methods annoy Mr. Furious – he has them complete rote team-building exercises and speaks exclusively in platitudes. They also seek out mad scientist Dr. Heller, who specializes in non-lethal weaponry, to equip them for their battle.

The group breaks into Casanova’s mansion during a gathering of several of the city’s gangs, but while attempting to free Captain Amazing, they inadvertently set off the Psycho-frakulator, killing him instead. Without Amazing, the team despairs that there is no way they can save the city, but the Shoveller delivers a pep-talk that succeeds in uniting and inspiring them.

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With new-found purpose, they assault the mansion, and by making effective use of their negligible superpowers and Heller’s weapons, manage to subdue most of Casanova Frankenstein’s henchmen. Unfortunately, as the heroes approach Casanova Frankenstein, he reveals that he is holding Mr. Furious’ girlfriend Monica hostage, and proceeds to activate the Psycho-frakulator, which begins to wreak havoc upon the city. While the team tries to stop the device, Mr. Furious takes on Casanova Frankenstein. After initially taking a beating, Mr. Furious unleashes his inner rage and manages to fight effectively for the first time. He defeats Casanova Frankenstein, who is thrown into the core of the Psycho-frakulator and killed by its reality-bending powers. The rest of the team helps the Bowler use her bowling ball to destroy the device, and escape the mansion as it implodes, killing several villains still inside.

The team is interviewed by reporters, begging to know their team name. As they argue among themselves, one reporter states “Well, whatever you may call them, Champion City will forever owe a debt of gratitude to these ‘Mystery Men’,” but the others are too busy arguing to hear it.

 

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