Casanova Frankenstein is played by the talented Geoffrey Rush; he manages to straddle line between humorous and villainous so well and makes for a scoundrel that you absolutely love to hate. There are also plenty of smaller roles played by some very talented stars like Greg Kinnear, Eddie Izzard and even Tom Waits.
You’d be forgiven for not knowing that the film is actually loosely based on a group of characters that appeared in the Flaming Carrot comic series by Bob Burden who was also a writer for the film. The comic has an even more outlandish sense of humour than the film; Flaming Carrot is a man that has read too many comics, this has caused him to believe he is a superhero. He later forms a team called the Mystery Men who appear from time to time to help him out with wacky capers, for example they work together to stop an army of evil cloned Nazi boots from taking over the world. Many of the characters featured in the movie are new inventions, though Mr Furious and The Shoveler are characters that featured in the books as well.
On release the film was poorly received by many critics and particularly by audiences. The film flopped at the box office only making $33.5 million against a budget of $68 million. Since then however the film has taken on somewhat of a cult following and seems to have found its audience many years later.
One can’t help but think that perhaps Mystery Men was just too ahead of its time?
It was released in 1999, which is before Films like X-Men and Spider-man had been released, before a time when almost every blockbuster was about some costume wearing crime fighter aiming to save the day. In fact this was just after Batman & Robin was released in 1997, who needs to parody a superhero film when one that laughable came out only 2 years before? Perhaps if the film was released now it would be received in an entirely different way, perhaps people would get it.
Mystery Men does not deserve the poor reception it got. This film works both as a satire on a genre that people have become so unbelievably enamoured with and as a simple over the top comedy film. The performances are excellent across the board from a cast as offbeat as the characters they play. The script is good, it balances a steady pace for its gags and heartfelt moments outlining a wide variety of characters very well indeed. What this movie does best though is it establishes a new and fairly original fictional world; Champion City is oozing with character and full of people you’re dying to know more about.
The potential for sequels and spinoffs in a time where that’s all we see in the cinemas is remarkable. The film feels original, more so than any superhero film out there currently and frankly with its newly found admiration I’m amazed that there haven’t been whispers of something new since. So if you’re looking for a new superhero movie with an original character and you haven’t seen Mystery Men, give it a go, it might be just what you’re looking for.