What to do while watching:
What to eat while watching:
Sometimes, a video is just the thing to fill up a lonely night at home. With Mrs. Worsted off visiting her friends up north, the house felt a little lonely. And since I just finished reading Herman Melville's Moby Dick, an emotional journey with an exhausting climax, I was in the mood for some laid-back, silly entertainment. I needed something droll, mindless, and quite plainly zany. Mystery Men is the perfect film for this mood.
Reality got you down? This movie takes you into another one, a comic-book fantasy world that's much easier on the soul, despite the presence of super-villains. Pure escapism, it tells the story of a rag-tag band of semi-heroes striving to prove themselves worthy of the title of superhero. Basically, it's a formula within a formula: losers prove themselves in a comic book setting.
Mystery Men transports the viewer to fantasyland on another level as well: the viewer is taken to the demi-reality of Hollywood with this cast of hip, young shooting stars. Ben Stiller as "Mr. Furious" still monopolizes cool cynicism, and his acting conveys a strained humor that Stiller fans will enjoy. It's not laugh-out-loud funny; it's more like grimace-knowingly funny. Janeane Garofalo, "The Bowler," is right there with him with her no-nonsense spunkiness and a tightly-wound zaniness of her own. Paul Reubens has reappeared; and putting a thin, acne-ridden veneer over his Pee-Wee, creates a flatulent super-creepy-hero called "Spleen." And the list of stars goes on a little longer.
Fighting terribly hard in the battle of what's hip, this film sets a disco in the middle of the mansion of super-villain, Casanova Frankenstein. There's really no reason for the disco, nor for so many of Casanova's henchmen to be dressed in disco drag, except that we all know that retro is cool and disco is retro, funny, and very "in." The soundtrack gets to fill up with songs that make 40-somethings sigh, 30-somethings cry and 20-somethings chuckle.
I was cooking eggplant parmesan as Captain Amazing, Champion
City's sole recognized superhero was kidnapped by Frankenstein.
The egglplant was ready to be cut into the casserole pot and
layered with the ricotta. It would take a while, so I stopped
the film and put a CD in. It was Mike Watt's Tugboat
or Ballhog, including the non-anthem: "The Kids of Today
Should Defend Themselves Against the 70's."
But the real highlight is Tom Waits, who can literally do no wrong in my opinion. His presence on screen is so unpretentious that he charms away all the pretentions of Stiller and crew. You see in Tom's eyes this thrill that he's so excited to be in a movie. He's clearly playing, and not trying at all to act. I know they cast him just to be that much hipper, but I don't care. Waits has enough screen time to make this worth watching for anyone who likes his work and his persona.
Go in with low expectations and a desire to "turn off
the old mind" and you'll enjoy this one as much as any other
blockbuster Hollywood has to offer.
©1999 by Randy Shandis Enterprises. All rights happily reserved.