Superhero movies are ubiquitous in our culture. But none have been as underrated as 1999’s Mystery Men. It’s a story about a bunch of nobodies desperate to be heroes in crime-ridden Champion City. It was panned by critics and lost a ton of money. But here’s why it’s one of the best movies ever:
1. Ben Stiller is a ticking time bomb of fury. His character Mr. Furious is a convinced that his super powers come from a place of unbridled rage. The only problem is that his anger is actually fairly mild and benign, and his real name not Furious. It’s Roy.
2. Janeane Garofalo makes bowling look really cool. She plays The Bowler, the only female superhero in the ensemble. She is the son of Carmine the Bowler, and is out to avenge his death. And she keeps his skull in a bowling ball.
3. This movie is full of awesome quotes. Including, but definitively not limited to, “He who questions training only trains himself at asking questions,” and “I don’t need a compass to know which way the wind shines.”
4. Tom Waits builds awesome weapons. He plays Doc Heller, a genius who makes powerful non-lethal weapons for champions of justice.
5. Paul Reubens has the worst farts ever. Pee Wee Herman himself plays the Spleen, a man who was cursed by a gypsy to “forever be he who dealt it”. It’s a chemical weapon straight from his ass.
6. Hank Azaria likes to throw forks. He plays the Blue Raja, and his catchphrases include “I say, what the fork!” His super skills all center around silverware.
7. Eddie Izzard is a disco-dancing bad guy named Tony P. He killed The Bowler’s dad, and he’s a giant fan of velvet and fake fur. His wardrobe is reason enough to watch this film.
8. The main bad guy is played by none other than Geoffrey Rush, and his name is Casanova Frankenstein. He plans to vaporize Champion City, and that just ain’t cool to the Mystery Men.
9. I know this is the writer geek in me talking, but I honestly enjoy the character arcs in this movie. The protagonists are sympathetic and lovable, and they all find their redemption (spoiler alert).
10. Tim Burton may or may not have been the director. The director credit goes to someone named Kinka Usher, whose resume includes no other movies, only commercials. Tom Waits eluded in his autobiography that Tim Burton was indeed the director. I love this movie either way, but it’s always fun to entertain a real-life Hollywood mystery.