Mystery Men

  • Review Date: July 14, 2003
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1999
  • Running Time: 121 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Witty comic-book story is edgy, with lots of potty humor.
  • Review Date: July 14, 2003
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1999
  • Running Time: 121 minutes

Age(i)

2
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5
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8
9
10
11
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15
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

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

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.

Violence

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.

Sex

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.

Language

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

Consumerism

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.

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.

Parents say

Kids say

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?

QUALITY
 

This semi-successful attempt at a post-modern comic-book style story that has it both ways, archly commenting 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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:August 15, 1999
DVD release date:August 15, 1999
Cast:Hank Azaria, Janeane Garofalo, William H. Macy
Director:Kinka Usher
Studio:Universal Pictures
Genre:Comedy
Topics:Superheroes
Run time:121 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:violence and some language

This review of Mystery Men was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
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  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 17 years old Written byBestPicture1996 August 14, 2013
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

Maybe younger teens will like it better than I did!

Of course being huge into superheroes, these eccentric and occasionally annoying ones in "MM" would've likely enchanted my imagination at the age of 10 or so. The Spleen's speech impediment, the Blue Raja's accent and other little things like the excessive wide angle lens magnifying everyone's faces into grotesqueness. I have to give points for originality though, I haven't seen many movies quite as quirky.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Adult Written bydaystar58 April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

Parents, run right out and get this movie...

so that everyone can have a good laugh. Probably the best ensemble acting ever, with a stellar cast. The violence is cartoonish but clever, there is no racial stereotyping (check out William H. Macy in a bi-racial marriage) and everyone plays it for laughs. There is no language that is objectionable, a first for Hollywood, the humor is quirky, the kitsch is over-the-top (us products of the '70s gotta love that disco theme ;-) and the good guys triumph in the end. Note that, when Greg Kinnear gets incinerated, he deserves it -- Jeanene Garofalo tries to clarify whether or not she's doing the right thing and he keeps saying, flip the switch... This rates as one of our all-time family movies.
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

Great Movie!

There is a little violence and some barely recognizable language, but it is a very good movie and well worth seeing.

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