ARCHIVED REVIEWS (Mo-Mz)

Monkeybone
Monster's Ball
Monsters, Inc.
Moonlight Mile
Mothman Prophecies, the
Moulin Rouge
Mr. Deeds
Mulholland Drive
Mumford
Mummy Returns, the
Murder By Numbers
Muse, the
Music of the Heart

Musketeer, the
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
My Dog Skip
My First Mister
My Life So Far
Mystery, Alaska
Mystery Men

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Archived Video Reviews (Mo - Mz)
 

MONKEYBONE - D
Starring:
Brendan Fraser, Bridget Fonda, Chris Kattan, Giancarlo Esposito, Rose McGowan, Whoopi Goldberg, Dave Foley, Megan Mullally
Directed by:
Henry Selick
Comedy, 100 min
(14A) (20th Century Fox, 2001)

Most movies are faulted for not being inventive enough, but in the case of this head-trip of a movie, it is the exact opposite: there are simply too many ideas bouncing around here, with almost none of them sticking together to form an even half-coherent movie. Based on the graphic novel Dark Town by Kaja Blackley and directed by Henry Selick, Monkeybone wants to be a cross between a Dali painting, Beetlejuice, Fritz the Cat and Selick's The Nightmare Before Christmas, but this combination of hyperactive stop-motion animation and flat live action is much closer in execution to 1993's hopeless Cool World. As in Bedazzled, Brendan Fraser takes on multiple personalities here, playing a cartoonist whose animated alter ego, a raunchy monkey, comes to life to torment Fraser in purgatory following a car crash, then wreak havoc on the real-world when he escapes. All of it makes absolutely no sense, leaving one to wonder why anyone would have spent good money to make such a distasteful and shameless picture. (top)

MONSTER'S BALL -
B
Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Halle Berry, Heath Ledger, Peter Boyle, Sean Combs, Mos Def, Coronji Calhoun, Dante Beze
Directed by: Marc Foster
Drama, 108 min (18A) (Lions Gate, 2001)


Set in the clichéd Deep South of Hollywood dramas - a world brimming with sweat, many moments of quiet stares, fierce racial conflict and slowly rotating ceiling fans - the bleak and angry Monster's Ball is nonetheless a devastating and ultimately hopeful drama about two people who come together primarily out of sheer desperation for a future. Billy Bob Thornton plays Hank, a death row prison guard with a strained relationship with his son (Heath Ledger) and cruelly racist father (Peter Boyle). Oscar-winner Halle Berry is Leticia, a struggling mother and widow whose imprisoned husband (rapper Sean "P. Diddy" Combs) was recently executed on Hank's watch. These two forlorn people come together through drastic circumstances and, as directed by Marc Forster, their relationship comes to light with heart-wrenching emotion, all of it marked by many memorable and shocking scenes, characters and decisions. The typically chameleon-like Thornton plays a little too close to his Man Who Wasn't There role as Hank, but his flashes of expression speak volumes and, though slightly too inhibited to be truly Oscar-worthy, Berry's performance is brave and commendable, a blistering nerve at the core of this emotionally raw picture. (top) (back)

MONSTERS, INC. - B+
Voices: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Mary Gibbs, James Coburn, Jennifer Tilly, John Ratzenberger, Bob Peterson
Directed by: Pete Docter
Animated, 93 min
(G) (Walt Disney, 2001)

Much of the joy in Pixar's computer animated pictures is gleaned from the breathtaking amount of detail crammed into every shot and Monsters, Inc. - like A Bug's Life and the Toy Story films before it - has more delightful in-jokes and sparkling visual treats than can be believed. True, the story here seems a little more earth-bound than the adventures of Buzz and Woody and, yes, Shrek had more bursting laughs, but computer animation has never looked better than it does here, with every hair, fibre and fleshy creature realized with stunning accuracy. John Goodman and Billy Crystal make a splendid comic team as the voices of the furry Sully and one-eyed Mike, bedroom closet monsters who make a living collecting children's screams in order to power their world of Monstropolis. When a giggling, energetic little girl follows Sully out of the human world, all heck breaks loose (monsters have been told that one touch from a child can be deadly) and beneath all of the entertaining gags and amusing story surprises is a commendable message about facing your fears. Ultimately, though, what is most memorable about Monsters, Inc. is the visual artistry, so colourful, shiny and tactile you almost want to reach out and touch the screen. (top) (back)

MOONLIGHT MILE - B-
Starring:
Jake Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, Susan Sarandon, Holly Hunter, Ellen Pompeo, Dabney Coleman, Allan Corduner
Directed by: Brad Silberling
Drama, 117 min (PG) (Touchstone, 2002)


In 1989, writer-director Brad Silberling (City of Angels) lost his fiancée, actress Rebecca Schaeffer (the costar of TV's My Sister Sam) when a stalker murdered her in front of her home. The resulting relationship between Silberling and Schaeffer's parents was the inspiration for Moonlight Mile, a well-meaning but poorly paced drama about family and grief. Coming across like a cinematic group hug and set, for no discernable reason, in the early '70s, Moonlight Mile stars Jake Gyllenhaal (The Good Girl) as Joe, a young man whose fiancée is murdered just two weeks before their wedding and has now assumed the role of surrogate son for her grieving parents (Dustin Hoffman and Susan Sarandon). In turns out that Joe is hiding a secret and Silberling's screenplay reveals more depth once it is revealed, but generally Moonlight Mile is too content to sugarcoat issues of loss and sadness with sentiment about healing, despite some very good work from Sarandon (as a woman who hates fools, even those who come baring sympathy) and a trying-to-put-on-a-happy-face Hoffman. If Gyllenhaal comes across a bit lightly, it has less to do with the actor's performance than with Silberling's overly glossy take on difficult issues. (top) (back)

THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES - C+
Starring: Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Will Patton, Debra Messing, Alan Bates, Nesbitt Blaisdell, Lucinda James, Ann McDonough
Directed by:
Mark Pellington
Suspense, 119 min (14A) (Screen Gems, 2002)


Most horror movies love to rub the audience's eyes in gore or gross-out special effects, but The Mothman Prophecies, like The Others and The Sixth Sense before it, instead opts for hushed thrills, with capable director Mark Pellington (Arlington Road) preferring to seek haunting images by only slightly modifying the everyday. It's an intriguing idea and, initially, The Mothman Prophecies works you into its spell of dread, telling the story of a Washington Post reporter (Richard Gere) who loses his wife (Debra Messing) in a car accident and mysteriously winds up in Point Pleasant, a quiet West Virginia town in which many of the locals are being haunted by visions of a moth-like creature (the film is based on a still unexplained disaster that hit Point Pleasant in 1967). About midway through, however, it is clear that Pellington cares more about Gere's mental breakdown than any supernatural explanations and the film gets sidetracked, weakening the pace and momentum like a moth with one wing, only really achieving liftoff with the spooky conclusion. As for the performances, Gere is suitably anguished and haunted, but his Primal Fear costar Laura Linney wastes her You Can Count on Me talents as a Point Pleasant cop. (top) (back)

MOULIN ROUGE - B+
Starring:
Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, Jim Broadbent, John Leguizamo, Richard Roxburgh, Kylie Minogue, David Wenham
Directed by:
Baz Luhrmann
Musical, 128 min (PG) (20th Century Fox, 2001)


If ever there were a movie in which style triumphed magnificently over substance, it would be the dazzling, Oscar-nominated rock musical Moulin Rouge. Director Bazz Luhrmann (William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet) may be working with a thin story, but here he has wrapped everything up in a kaleidoscope of bright colours, ideas and visual imagery, set it on a spinning top and let everything fly around in a dizzying and intoxicating blur. It certainly isn't for everyone's tastes - the first 30 minutes are particularly busy - but those who can get into Luhrmann's spirit will have a blast. Set at the infamous French nightclub in 1899, the film follows the ill-fated romance between the club's jaded star courtesan (Oscar-nominee Nicole Kidman) and a penniless English writer (Ewan McGregor) and Luhrmann jazzes everything up with frantic dancing, daringly over-the-top camera work and exaggerated sets. Rather than stick to traditional musical numbers, Luhrmann jams the film with popular notes from the likes of Sting, Elton John, U2, Nirvana, Dolly Parton, and many more, and the effect is electrifying, effectively meshing musicals with the media age and bringing fresh ideas to old classics (Jim Broadbent's Like a Virgin is particularly thrilling). (top) (back)

MR. DEEDS - C-
Starring: Adam Sandler, Winona Ryder, Peter Gallagher, John Turturro, Steve Buscemi, Jared Harris, Allen Covert, Peter Dante, Rob Schneider
Directed by: Steven Brill
Comedy, 91 min
(PG) (Columbia Tristar, 2002)

After the utter ineptitude of the high-concept Little Nicky (2000), Adam Sandler seems too eager to regain the audience's approval with the pandering Mr. Deeds, an update of Frank Capra's Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) from Nicky director Steven Brill that plays like a watered down Happy Gilmore-Wedding Singer hybrid. Returning to his overly familiar regular schlub ways, Sandler plays Longfellow Deeds, the nice-guy owner of a small-town New Hampshire pizzeria who gets whisked off to New York after inheriting $40 billion from a distant relative. While there, some corporate bigwigs (led by Peter Gallagher) try to hoodwink Deeds and a tabloid TV reporter (Winona Ryder) goes undercover to get the dirt on him, but Deeds isn't the innocent everyone takes him to be and he isn't above going sadistic on someone who shows disrespect. Aside from some scenes featuring John Turturro as a faithful butler, Mr. Deeds never feels like more than a rehash of earlier Sandler pictures (Memo to the comedian: the violence sort of made sense in Happy Gilmore, here it just seems desperate) and, though she tries to get into the spirit, the slumming Ryder (a former Oscar nominee stuck in the doldrums) just seems uncomfortable. (top) (back)

MULHOLLAND DRIVE - B
Starring:
Naomi Watts, Laura Elena Harring, Ann Miller, Justin Theroux, Robert Forster, Dan Hedaya, Brent Briscoe, Billy Ray Cyrus
Directed by:
David Lynch
Drama, 147 min (14A) (Universal, 2001)

David Lynch may have swerved into mainstream territory with the heartwarming The Straight Story (1999), but he's back to his old mind games with Mulholland Drive, a film that holds you in a trance whenever it isn't aggravating your sense of logic. Originally a two-hour television pilot and later reedited with additional scenes for theatrical release, Mulholland Drive casts the pitch-perfect Naomi Watts as Betty, a fresh-faced Canadian who has moved to Hollywood to be an actress, and the sultry Laura Elena Harring as "Rita," a confused amnesiac who befriends Betty. As was true with projects like Blue Velvet (1986) and TV's Twin Peaks (1990-1991), however, stories can never be that simple in pure Lynch efforts and the director, whose work here was nominated for an Oscar, keeps the audience absorbed in Betty and Rita's tale by supplementing it with tantalizing/freaky scenes involving an ominous cowboy, a steamy lesbian encounter, a frustrated filmmaker, an emotional nightclub, a mysterious key, a midget in a wheelchair, and so on. It's not until the final act that Lynch ends up taking things too far, having the characters wildly change names and personalities in a failed attempt to bring metaphysical significance to his bizarre ideas. (top) (back)

MUMFORD - B-
Starring:
Loren Dean, Hope Davis, Jason Lee, Alfre Woodard, Mary McDonnell, Pruitt Taylor Vince, David Paymer, Martin Short
Directed by:
Lawrence Kasden
Comedy, 112 min (PG) (Touchstone, 1999)

Lawrence Kasden, director of The Big Chill and Grand Canyon, returns to ensemble comedy with this slight but well-acted trifle. Written and directed by Kasden, the film casts Loren Dean as Mumford, a mysterious stranger who suddenly appears in a small, Rockwell-esque town and begins acting as psychologist to all the local kooks. Unlike much of Kasden's work, there really isn't much weight to Mumford and you'll no doubt forget it within a couple of hours. Nonetheless, there is no denying the talent contained in the film's cast. Aside from the well-chosen Dean, Mumford features polished comic turns from the likes of Alfre Woodard as a restaurant owner, Pruitt Taylor Vance as a sad-sack pharmacist, Jason Lee as a lonely millionaire, Hope Davis as Mumford's insomniac love interest and Ted Danson and Mary McDonnell as an unhappy married couple. Because of this, even as this exceedingly wispy movie floats out of your mind, it remains pleasantly entertaining. (top) (back)

THE MUMMY RETURNS - C-
Starring: Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, The Rock (Dwayne Johnson), John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo, Oded Fehr, Patricia Velasquez
Directed by: Stephen Sommers
Action, 130 min
(PG) (Universal, 2001)

After all of the recent advances in special effects and effect-driven entertainment, it was only a matter of time before a blockbuster showed up that was about nothing more than computer-generated visuals. Unfortunately, that film is The Mummy Returns, an empty-headed sequel to the cheeseball Indiana Jones-rip-off The Mummy (1999) that cares not for character, plot, logic or any emotional response, instead cramming every shot with big noise, big motions and too-big-to-make-us-care CGI effects. Overwritten and overdirected by the original's Stephen Sommers, The Mummy Returns brings back easy-going Brendan Fraser as adventurer Rick O'Connell, by now married to his Egyptologist sweetie (Rachel Weisz) and the father of a son (Freddie Boath). As before, the O'Connells are once again threatened by the undead (Arnold Vosloo), but this time the threatening Scorpion King (wrestler The Rock, in little more than a cameo) has entered the ring. The dull and needlessly convoluted plot rips off everything from Raiders of the Lost Ark to Gladiator to E.T. to Titanic to the old Saturday afternoon serials from the '30s and '40s, never treating the audience with any respect and never, by any means, earning any of ours. (top) (back)

MURDER BY NUMBERS - B-
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Ben Chaplin, Ryan Gosling, Michael Pitt, Chris Penn, Agnes Bruckner, R.D. Call
Directed by: Barbet Schroeder
Suspense, 120 min
(14A) (Warner Bros., 2002)

Sometimes, two halves don't always equal a whole. Such is the case with Murder By Numbers, a mystery thriller with two main plotlines in which only ones lives up to its potential and the other is left sitting in the dust. Putting a dramatic spin on her Miss Congeniality tomboy character, Sandra Bullock plays Cassie Mayweather, a California detective investigating a seemingly random murder in which none of the evidence seems to add up. This, of course, only follows the plan of Richard (Ryan Gosling) and Justin (Michael Pitt), two high school seniors with little in common besides a shared desire to commit the perfect murder and get away with it. Bullock adds some nice shades of selfishness and unlikability to her role, but the character's internal conflict and back story - there's a mystery in her past that has caused her to avoid real relationships - is often tepid and unnecessary, overshadowed by the much more complex and interesting look at teen killers with too much time and money on their hands (no doubt inspired by the infamous 1924 trial of Leopold and Leob). Hedwig and the Angry Inch's Pitt is appropriately mopey and disconnected, but the real star here is Gosling, an actor with the charisma, intensity and gusto of a young Sean Penn. (top) (back)

THE MUSE - B-
Starring: Albert Brooks, Sharon Stone, Andie MacDowell, Jeff Bridges, Mark Feuerstein, Bradly Whitford
Directed by:
Albert Brooks
Comedy, 97 min (PG) (USA Films, 1999)

Sharon Stone may been howlingly funny in Sliver and The Specialist, but here she actually asks viewers to laugh with her instead of at her, thus proving that she has what it takes to be a razor-sharp comedian. Written, directed by and starring the always neurotic Albert Brooks (Lost in America, Mother), The Muse tells the story of a frustrated Hollywood screenwriter (Brooks) who befriends a needy free-spirit that claims to be one of the nine daughters of the Greek god Zeus (Stone). In exchange for paying for her room and board, Stone's character supposedly pushes her employers to advanced levels of inspiration and creativity. Not surprisingly, Brooks is more than willing to bite the hand that feeds him with stinging barbs aimed at the art of moviemaking, but the screenplay is often too Hollywood-specific for its own good and it fails to establish characters that earn our sympathy. That said, Stone's gleeful parody of her own diva-esque reputation alone is enough to warrant a watch. She's never less than a-muse-ing. (top) (back)

MUSIC OF THE HEART - B
Starring:
Meryl Streep, Aidan Quinn, Angela Bassett, Gloria Estefan, Cloris Leachman, Jay O. Sanders, Josh Pais, Jane Leeves
Directed by:
Wes Craven
Drama, 123 min (PG) (Miramax, 1999)

In his first foray outside of the horror genre, director Wes Craven (Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream) could have done a lot worse than Music of the Heart. Based on the 1995 Oscar-winning documentary Small Wonders, the film tells the story of Roberta Guaspari (Meryl Streep), a recently divorced mother of two who decides to use her collection of 50 violins to develop a music program at an inner-city elementary school. As is to be expected, Streep gives a thoughtful and studied performance as Roberta, but what makes Music of the Heart less an overly melodramatic inspirational tale and more an affecting drama is the fact that both Streep and Craven ensure that their protagonist is flawed and never completely sure of herself. The film could have done without the two romantic suitors for Roberta (Aidan Quinn and Jay O. Sanders) and some viewers will no doubt feel manipulated but, given the sap this could have been, you take what you can get. (top) (back)

THE MUSKETEER -
D+
Starring:
Justin Chambers, Catherine Deneuve, Mena Suvari, Stephen Rea, Tim Roth, Nick Moran, Bill Treacher, Jean-Pierre Castaldi
Directed by:
Peter Hyams
Action, 105 min (PG) (Universal, 2001)

The promotional material for The Musketeer promises Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers "as you've never seen it," an accurate statement if only because it is difficult to imagine another version of the story as anemic and plodding as this one. The Wedding Planner's Justin Chambers, here little more than a swashbuckling Ken doll, plays the hero D'Artagnan, an acrobatic swordsman who travels to 17th-century Paris to enlist the musketeers (the famed "three musketeers" are portrayed here as drunken washouts) to help him fight duplicitous figures of power and avenge the murder of his parents. Director Peter Hyams (End of Days) enlisted Hong Kong stunt coordinator Xin-Xin Xiong to turn the overly simplistic story into Crouching Tiger, Hidden D'Artagnan, but his direction is appallingly off base, with all of the action sequences underlit, muddled or completely nonsensical. The final sequence should have been a highlight, but the incompetence reaches the level where Hyams seems to have repeatedly forgotten to turn on the rain machine (it's raining, it's not, it's raining, it's not…). As for the performers, Mena Suvari is a washout as the love interest and Tim Roth basically does a cartoon version of his villain in Rob Roy. (top) (back)

MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING - B-
Starring:
Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Michael Constantine, Lainie Kazan, Andrea Martin, Gia Carides, Ian Gomez, Joey Fatone
Directed by: Joel Zwick
Comedy, 95 min (PG) (HBO, 2002)


Some people hate My Big Fat Greek Wedding just because so many people love it. Why, they argue, does such a minor and broad comedy deserve to set records for a low-budget independent film and gross over $200 million at the box office. Ultimately, of course, Wedding doesn't deserve such a position - it is too stereotype-driven and obvious for that - but the fact remains that the film struck a chord and much of this can be attributed to writer-star Nia Vardalos, a fresh and vanity-free personality who, as an actress, deserves better material than she has provided herself with here. Essentially a feature-length ethnic sitcom (indeed, the film spawned a TV series entitled My Big Fat Greek Life), Wedding stars Vardalos as a 30-something Greek woman who shocks her large extended family, particularly her Windex-loving father (Michael Constantine) by announcing her intent to marry a WASPy vegetarian high school teacher (John Corbett). Watching Corbett's character soak up the Greek culture is moderately enjoyable, with Vardalos' lively personality compensating for many of the bland Corbett's shortcomings, and, in the end, there's a big fat, enthusiastic and good-natured spirit to the film that can't be easily discounted. (top) (back)


MY DOG SKIP - B-
Starring:
Frankie Muniz, Kevin Bacon, Diane Lane, Luke Wilson
Directed by:
Jay Russell
Drama, 95 min (PG) (Warner Bros, 2000)


To the ever-expanding list of films about the friendship between a boy and his dog (Old Yeller, Benji, Beethoven…), add this heartwarming and likeable, if occasionally timid, family film. Based on 1995 memoir by Willie Morris and starring Malcolm in the Middle’s Frankie Muniz, My Dog Skip takes place during WWII and tells the story of a shy bookworm (Muniz) who learns to play sports and break out of his isolated shell with the assistance of a Jack Russell terrier named Skip. Kevin Bacon and Diane Lane play the boy’s parents and Luke Wilson is his sports hero neighbour, but the heart of the film arises from director Jay Russell’s ability to telling a good, straightforward story. Sure, Muniz occasionally looks uncomfortable without some irony to play with and, yes, the film lacks bite when it comes to some of its subplots, but there is no denying that the film will melt even the iciest of hearts. (top) (back)

MY FIRST MISTER - C+
Starring:
Leelee Sobieski, Albert Brooks, Desmond Harrington, Carol Kane, John Goodman, Mary Kay Place, Michael McKean
Directed by:
Christine Lahti
Drama, 109 min (14A) (Paramount, 2001)


Watching My First Mister, one can't help but wonder what direction the film would have taken if the filmmakers had been a little more courageous in their casting. Wholesome Leelee Sobieski (The Glass House) stars as Jennifer, a 17-year-old, Sylvia Plath-idolizing goth girl with far more piercings than honest relationships. This ratio changes when Jennifer befriends Randall (Albert Brooks), a dweeby, middle-aged suit salesman also fraught with loneliness, but because Sobieski just seems to be playing a game of dress-up, this unlikely friendship never fully comes into the light. Even more problematic is the fact that actress-turned-director Christine Lahti (who won an Oscar for the short Lieberman in Love in 1996), working from an overwritten screenplay, ultimately lets the story's sentimentality - complete with long-lost relatives and terrible secrets - overwhelm the film's primary asset: a typically wry and witty performance by Brooks. Had his costar been an actress with real grit - say, Fairuza Balk - there's a chance Brooks could have triumphed over the material rather than simply succumbing to it. Among the film's caricatured supporting characters are John Goodman as Jennifer's hippie father and Carol Kane as her overly cheery mother. (top) (back)

MY LIFE SO FAR - C+
Starring:
Colin Firth, Robert Norman, Malcolm McDowell, Rosemarry Harris, Irene Jacob, Tcheky Karyo, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio
Directed by:
Hugh Hudson
Drama, 94 min (PG) (Miramax, 1999)


Chariots of Fire director Hugh Hudson took a 10 year break after 1989's Lost Angels before returning with this period drama and, unfortunately, the cobwebs have built up and are hard to ignore. Based on the life of British television executive Denis Forman, My Life So Far focuses on a 10-year-old boy living in the Scottish highlands in 1927 with an extended family including his moderately eccentric inventor father (Colin Firth) and rich uncle (Malcolm McDowell). A rift develops between father and son when they both vie for the attention of the uncle's young fiancée (Irene Jacob), but there's very little here in terms of plot and Hudson is all too willing to ground the film in conventional dialogue and routine characters (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio is particularly ill-served as the stereotypical long-suffering wife). To be successful, a coming-of-age film needs an identity of its own, established by a necessary personal touch, but My Life So Far is as bland and forgettable as its title. (top) (back)

MYSTERY, ALASKA - C+
Starring:
Russell Crowe, Hank Azaria, Mark McCormick, Burt Reynolds, Colm Meaney, Lolita Davidovich, Maury Chaykin, Ron Eldard
Directed by:
Jay Roach
Comedy, 119 min (14A) (Hollywood Pictures, 2000)


Written by television scribe David E. Kelley (Ally McBeal, The Practice), Mystery, Alaska features a large ensemble cast and a quirky combination of comedy and drama that seems to be a throwback to Picket Fences, one of Kelley's first TV successes. What works on TV, however, doesn't necessarily translate to the big screen. What Kelley failed to realize is that while a weekly TV series gives him the opportunity to develop his characters and offbeat subplots over weeks and weeks, this simply cannot be done over the course of a 119-minute movie. Telling the story of a ragtag team of small-town hockey players - lead by the local sheriff (Russell Crowe) - who get the opportunity to play the New York Rangers in an exhibition game, Mystery, Alaska is crammed with actors and story-threads that beg for more screen time. As a result, every aspect of the picture that works - in particular, the exciting and well-staged hockey scenes - only ends up getting sideswiped by something that doesn't. (top) (back)

MYSTERY MEN - C
Starring:
Ben Stiller, Janeane Garofalo, William H. Macy, Hank Azaria, Paul Reubens, Wes Studi, Greg Kinnear, Geoffrey Rush, Claire Forlani
Directed by:
Kinka Usker
Comedy, 122 min (PG) (Universal, 1999)


There's a Superman-solid comic cast in Mystery Men, but with a script that's pure Kryptonite, all of the actors' talents are considerably weakened, left dulled by dim-witted gags, an overambitious director and numbingly overlong running time. Here Ben Stiller, William H. Macy, Janeane Garofalo and Hank Azaria lead the overcrowded cast pushing each other out of the way for some screen time, with many of them playing superhero wannabes with such dubious talents as being able to get really, really mad, having exceptional bowling skills and being able to turn invisible provided no one is looking. Greg Kinnear is a hoot as the smug, publicity-craving Captain Amazing and Geoffrey Rush plays the insane scientist that these men in tights are trying to stop, but the problem is that Mystery Men has so many characters and so many gags on its mind that only about have of the picture hits the funny bone, with the rest of it having about as good an aim as a minor Spider-Man thug. (top) (back)
All reviews by Mike Boon.  


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