Mystery Men

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Mystery Men Movie Poster Image
Parents recommend
Witty comic-book story is edgy, with lots of potty humor.
  • PG-13
  • 1999
  • 121 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 5 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Friendship and working together are valued highly in this otherwise quite silly movie; some of the bonds between the titular superheroes are actually quite touching.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Most of the characters are too satirical to take seriously, but William H. Macy's The Shoveler is a loyal and true family man, though he sometimes puts the needs of the average citizen over those of his family. Garafalo's Bowler is a rare example of a fantastic, strong female superhero.


Much comic-book violence, including the (not very gory) incineration/mutilation of several characters. Most of the superhero battles, however, involve characters being pushed over or punched rather than shot or killed.


There is some flirting between men and women, and mention of dates and some characters being attractive (or not). In one scene, female villains are hit with a shrinking ray that shrinks their clothes into tight, short dresses; one character makes an erection joke afterwards.


One curse: "Oh, s--t." There are tons of references to passing gas: "Pull my finger!" "Silent but deadly." Characters insult each other: "Moron!"


One character wears a uniform emblazoned with sponsor names: Rayovac, Pepsi.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink in a bar, one gets a bit tipsy and slurs.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bymusicmama4 July 8, 2011

One of our family's favorites! Watch more than once, for sure.

This movie has hilarious lines. We watch it over and over, and find ourselves quoting it often, while laughing. It is a spoof, so the violence doesn't se... Continue reading
Parent of a 7, 8, 9, and 12-year-old Written bycacklingwoman April 26, 2009
Very funny and great role models for girls. ('Tho hopefully the PMS avenger who tries out for the team will go right over their heads.) Kinda wondering a... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byBobideybob August 5, 2018


loved it, funny, witty, and somewhat charming.
Teen, 13 years old Written bycocodragon November 20, 2017

Mystery Men

I was really excited to see Mystery Men because it looked very interesting and funny. The movie genre is an action/adventure and comedy.

The main plot is about... Continue reading

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about individual abilities, and what superpowers each member of the family would most like to have. Also, what accessory would your action figure be sold with?

  • How do the superheroes in this movie differ from traditional superheroes?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love superheroes

Themes & Topics

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