A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Mystery Men is a silly superhero satire that's rife with potty humor. One character in particular, The Spleen, boasts the superpower of superhuman flatulence, and there are jokes galore about his powerful gas. There are several non-gory electrocutions, and three characters are incinerated and mutilated onscreen, including the surprise death of a main character. At one point, a group of superheroes drink together in a bar and get silly and tipsy; at another, a group of female villains is hit with a shrink ray that shrinks only their clothes while a male superhero makes an erection joke. Other characters put each other down and call each other "moron" or "idiot." Altogether, the movie is terrifically goofy, but a lot of fun for teens and parents who enjoy superhero movies or screwball satires.
What's the story?
In MYSTERY MEN, Champion City is just about idyllic now that its superhero, Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear) has thoroughly vanquished all the bad guys. But without bad guys, Captain Amazing's visibility -- and his corporate endorsements -- are declining. He arranges for the release of an old arch- enemy, Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush), so that they can battle again. Things do not go as he planned, however, and Frankenstein captures him. A group of secondary superheroes with quirky powers come to his rescue, including the Blue Rajah (Hank Azaria), who throws utensils for weapons; Mr. Furious (Ben Stiller), whose anger gives him strength; The Bowler (Jeaneane Garofolo) and her powerful bowling ball; Invisible Boy (Kel Martin), who can't disappear if anyone is looking; The Shoveler (William H. Macy), who shovels very, very well; and The Spleen (Paul Reubens), who has killer flatulence.
Is it any good?
This is a semi-successful attempt at a post-modern comic-book style story that has it both ways. It archly comments on superhero sagas while actually giving us a new and cooler version of one at the same time. That is an all but impossible task, and Mystery Men comes closer than many, with its sensational production design and cast members who know how to nail dialogue with just the right spin of irony ("Maybe you'd better put on some shorts," says Jeaneane Garofolo as The Bowler to the Invisible Boy who has just become visible, "if you want to keep fighting evil today.").
Guided by the Delphic Sphinx (Wes Studi), the superheroes learn the importance of self-esteem and teamwork, as though they had wandered into some Mighty Ducks movie.
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