Reviewed by Cherie Jung

MYSTERY MEN

Starring: Greg Kinnear, William H. Macy, Janeane Garofalo, Hank Azaria, Geoffrey Rush, Paul Reubens, Kel Mitchell, Wes Studi, Tom Waits, and Claire Forlani.

Directed by: Kinka Usher

Screenplay by: Neil Cuthbert

Based on the Dark Horse comic book series, "Flaming Carrot/Mystery Men," created by Bob Burden.

It's got "mystery" in the title and they are crime fighters, right? (Or "low-rent rangers" as Soren Andersen of the Tacoma, Washington News Tribune calls them.)

Okay, so it's not your usual mystery, crime, or caper movie. It's funky. It's funny. And you just gotta love these guys! (I use "guys" in the unisex, slang connotation.)

You've got fading crime fighter, Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear) dressed in a coporate logo festooned costume, losing his Pepsi sponsorship, then plotting to break his nemesis, Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffry Rush) out of a hospital for the criminally insane so he has someone wicked to fight again.

Then, when things go awry -- and they always do -- you've got a motley bunch of crime-fighter-hero-wannabes auditioning other crime-fighter-hero/heroine-wannabes to form a small band (not the musical kind -- thoughts of Jake and Elmo, in "The Blues Brothers" and "I'm gettin' the band back together..." come to mind, don't they?). They want to go rescue their hero, Captain Amazing from the clutches of Cassanova Frankenstein. Whew!

There's "The Blue Raja" (Hank Azaria) who doesn't wear blue and throws only forks and spoons. No knives. There's "The Shoveler" (William H. Macy) who spins a mean shovel and whacks bad guys with it. And there's "Mr. Furious" (Ben Stiller) who loses his temper over practically anything.

They team up with "The Invisible Kid" (Kel Mitchell) who can't turn invisible if anyone is watching him, "The Spleen" (Paul Reubens of Pee Wee Herman fame) whose secret weapon is farting, and "The Bowler" (Janine Garafalo) who uses a bowling ball with a skull inside as her weapon.

The unlikely heroes have their work cut out for them because Casanova Frankenstein has amassed a large number of baddies, including "The Suzies" (Japanese gangsters. Effeminite Japanese gangsters.), "The Frat Boys" (Fraternity brothers who take hazing to a murderous end), and his closest associates, two guys dressed in pantsuits from the disco era, who think disco isn't dead.

Just sit back and enjoy yourself. The tussle between good and evil in this film is an entertaining one. And all of the "goodies" and "baddies" seem to be having so much fun! You might find yourself thinking, "Gee, I wonder if they need another crime-fighter. I'm not doing anything real important right now. I wonder what my secret weapon could be?"


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