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Mystery Men

Rated PG-13
Starring Hank Azaria, Ben Stiller, William H. Macy, Geoffrey Rush, Janeane Garofalo & Paul Reubens

CineSight Rating ***

Okay, we all know Superman, Spiderman, Batman, and the other famous superheroes who have their own comics, movies and lunchboxes. But what about the other heroes - you know, the guys whose superpowers aren't quite so spectacular? Finally, their time has come!

MYSTERY MEN takes place in Champion City, where Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear) happens to be the most effective form of justice. Actually, a little too effective. He has just lost his Pepsi sponsorship due to the lack of crime-fighting activity available. And as any personality will tell you, sponsorship is everything. What is an over-successful superhero to do, but engineer the release of his arch-nemesis - Casanova Frankenstein (Rush), in order to wreak a little havoc and give Captain Amazing some new publicity. Frankenstein, however, has no intentions of being locked up again, so he kidnaps the good Captain.

Enter the real heroes of our movie - The Blue Raja (Azaria), master of flinging silverware (but not knives, they're too dangerous); The Shoveller (Macy), who handles a shovel REALLY well (honestly, I'm not making this up); and Mr. Furious (Stiller) whose superpower is simply that he gets really, really mad. These b-grade wannabe superheroes decide it's up to them to rescue Captain Amazing. After one failed attempt, they decide to audition for some extra help.

At a backyard barbeque-audition, they add The Spleen (Reubens), whose power is toxic flatulence, bestowed upon him by a gypsy curse; The Bowler (Garofalo), who carries her father's skull embedded in the bowling ball she uses as a weapon; and Invisible Boy (Kel Mitchell), who can only turn invisible if no one's looking at him. The mottley crew is shepherded and trained by the terribly mysterious Sphynx (Wes Studi), who encourages them with all kinds of cliches and inane sayings.

Finally they are ready to take on Casanova Frankenstein and his gang of Disco Boys, rescue Captain Amazing and save the city. Of course, things don't always turn out as planned...

I'll admit it - as ridiculous as the story sounds, I loved this movie! It was way funnier and quirkier than AUSTIN POWER II, and had all the chemistry that WILD WILD WEST lacked. There are so many great moments that you have to watch it more than once to catch everything. First time director Kinka Usher does a wonderful job of fusing Gotham City and BLADE RUNNER's Los Angeles to create a believable Champion City. And the cast play along with the wacky premise.

You can tell this movie was a lot of fun to make, maybe almost as much as it is to watch. One of my favorite scenes is the superhero tryouts, where we are treated to such unknowns as The Waffler, with his truth syrup (low fat); Pencilhead and Son of Pencilhead; and who could forget the PMS Avenger, who only works four days a month. I have to go... need to get back to the theater for the next show. Up, up and away!