Mystery Men

August 6th, 1999


Mystery Men

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Still of Hank Azaria, Janeane Garofalo, William H. Macy, Paul Reubens, Ben Stiller, Kel Mitchell and Wes Studi in Mystery MenStill of Claire Forlani and Ben Stiller in Mystery MenStill of Janeane Garofalo, Paul Reubens and Tom Waits in Mystery MenStill of Kinka Usher in Mystery MenStill of Hank Azaria, Janeane Garofalo, William H. Macy, Paul Reubens, Ben Stiller, Kel Mitchell and Wes Studi in Mystery MenStill of Hank Azaria, William H. Macy and Ben Stiller in Mystery Men

A group of inept amateur superheroes must try to save the day when a supervillian threatens to destroy a major superhero and the city.

Release Year: 1999

Rating: 5.9/10 (36,290 voted)

Critic's Score: 65/100

Director: Kinka Usher

Stars: Ben Stiller, Janeane Garofalo, William H. Macy

In order to generate more endorsement revenue, Champion City's resident superhero Captain Amazing arranges for the release of supervillian Casanova Frankenstein, only to be captured by him. The city's fate rests in the hands of seven loser superhero wannabes: the fork-flinging Blue Rajah, the shovel-wielding Shoveler, the posessed bowling ball-hurling Bowler, the flatulent Spleen, the only-when-nobody's-looking Invisible Boy, the mysterious Sphinx, and the perpetually-angry Mr. Furious.

Writers: Neil Cuthbert, Bob Burden

Ben Stiller - Mr. Furious
Hank Azaria - The Blue Raja
William H. Macy - Shoveler
Janeane Garofalo - The Bowler
Kel Mitchell - Invisible Boy
Paul Reubens - Spleen
Wes Studi - Sphinx
Greg Kinnear - Captain Amazing / Lance
Geoffrey Rush - Casanova Frankenstein
Lena Olin - Dr. Anabel Leek
Eddie Izzard - Tony P
Artie Lange - Big Red
Pras - Tony C (as Prakazrel Michel)
Claire Forlani - Monica
Tom Waits - Doc Heller

Taglines: We're not your classic heroes, we're the other guys.


Official Website: Bob Burden Productions (Comic Book) | Universal Studios |

Release Date: 6 August 1999

Filming Locations: Huntington Library & Botanical Gardens - 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, California, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $65,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $10,017,865 (USA) (8 August 1999) (2136 Screens)

Gross: $29,655,590 (USA) (3 October 1999)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

The sign for the diner is written in Cyrillic - it makes no sense in Russian, but the sounds the letters themselves make is indeed the English word 'diner'.

Continuity: When leaving the Casa Casanova through a window after trying to rescue Mr. Amazing, the Blue Raja drops a spoon. Yet Casanova picks up a fork from the floor.

[first lines]
Dr. Heller: [offering an old lady candy at the Senior dance] Would you like something sweet?
Old Lady: [impressed] Oh!

User Review

Extremely Underrated

Rating: 9/10

I saw "Mystery Men" on my birthday in 1999 while I was away on vacation. When I came back home, I went to see it again. Keep in mind, I was twelve, but at that time it was the coolest movie ever. I even collected the ultra-rare action figures (I have them all except for the Bowler, which is the hardest to find. They made Mr. Furious, The Shoveler, The Blue Raja, The Spleen and Captain Amazing, in case your wondering. There IS a William H. Macy action figure in existence!). I've watched it many times over the years and it still remains a favorite of mine, due mostly to fond childhood memories. It's not a perfect movie, but it definitely deserves another look and perhaps a cult following.

The story: a bunch of low-level superheroes save the day. This was executed again in the mediocre, direct-to-video "The Specials" as well. But this is the other end of the spectrum: big budget (huge budget, almost $100 Million I think) studio comedy. Yes, the effects are overblown and the huge sets and wonderful production design are a bit much considering the plot. But don't think this as a stupid, special effects-y superhero movie--it's a PARODY. They fight a villain named Cassanova Frankenstein, people. He has a psychofrakulator, whatever that is (it's a doomsday device, he'll take over the world, yada yada.) And resident superhero Captain Amazing (a Zapp Brannigan-esque Greg Kinnear, with commercial-product-logos on his costume, nice touch) is kidnapped. Time for the Mystery Men: Mr. Furious (Ben Stiller, gets mad), The Shoveller (William H. Macy, beats people with shovels), The Blue Raja (Hank Azaria, British, throws forks), The Bowler (Janeane Garafolo, bowls), Invisible Boy (Kel Mitchell, guess what he does), The Spleen (the great Paul Reubens, farts), and The Sphinx (Wes Studi, cuts guns in half with his mind, I am not kidding). The rest of the fantastic cast of character actors includes Geoffrey Rush as Cassanova, Lena Olin heavily edited out as Cassanova's bride, and the one and only Tom Waits as a crazy weapons dealer. So...with Macy, Kinnear, Olin, and Rush there are four Oscar-nominees (and one winner) and Tom freakin' Waits! It's not perfect though. It's overlong and there are some gushes of corniness here and there (The Shoveller's full of them).

The dialogue definitely outweighs the physical comedy, which is sometimes lacking (there's a guy who farts for his power, case closed). The dialogue is definitely a highlight, the cyclical ramblings of the Sphinx, the mixed metaphors of Mr. Furious, etc. It's downright a funny movie, (it will almost make you forget that this was the film that let "All Star" by Smashmouth out into the world.)

Unfortunately, the film did not do as well with critics and audiences as it should have. A sequel was originally planned (the film is in fact based on a comic book and characters from "The Flaming Carrot" comics. The Flaming Carrot was planned for the sequel I believe) but this did not do well at the box office. It could have been a hard sell, a superhero comedy with the guy from "There's Something About Mary." It also could have been the fact that it was released on the same day as "The Sixth Sense"--which ended up being the biggest hit for the month of August--as well as "The Thomas Crown Affair." Two other misunderstood classics were released on the same crowded weekend, oddly enough--"Dick" and "The Iron Giant." Critics gave MM passable reviews, but it was quickly forgotten. Sadly enough, on Comedy Central's Roast of Jerry Stiller, comedian Jeffrey Ross commented to Ben Stiller that, "I saw 'Mystery Men' and I fired MY agent." Ben is then seen to mouth the words, "I should have to." Don't listen to him. Give "Mystery Men" a chance.


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