This nearly tolerable idea is turned into a series of overly long comedy bits by first-time director Kinka Usher who, if his photo in the production notes is any indication, actually looks like Wes Studi's "Mystery Man" character, The Sphinx. In other words, he's a goofball.
The film is at least a half hour too long, a problem that's caused by Usher's inability to understand the function of pacing. Let's just say that a bunch of guys sitting around a table talking about stuff does not lend itself to good pacing.
Those guys form the core of the Mystery Men in the film. They are: The Blue Raja (Hank Azaria), who throws forks, The Shoveler (William H. Macy), who hits people with a shovel, and Mr. Furious (Ben Stiller), who gets mad. After Champion City's one real superhero, Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear) is captured by Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush), this band of wannabees adds a couple more to their group and goes off to save the Captain. The extras are The Bowler (Janeane Garofalo), Invisible Boy (Kel Mitchell), The Spleen (Paul Reubens), and The Sphinx.
In addition to the useless 30 extra minutes of film, there are a couple of other things worth pointing out. Captain Amazing is the pitchman for a number of products and wears product labels all over his suit. This would be funny if it weren't the zillionth time I've seen writers slyly work product placements into their script by actually writing them in as "integral" to the movie. Now it's not the marketing weasels mucking up the films, but the screenwriters themselves who preemptively put the words "Pepsi" and "Lubriderm hand lotion" into the mouths of their characters. Once Hollywood's last stalwarts of dignity, it would seem that the screenwriters could have written themselves a special part into this film to celebrate their new role: "Corporate Ass-Kissing Man," with lips of steel.
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