Mystery Men: Superhero Spoof Is On 4K Ultra HD

L-R: William H. Macy, Ben Stiller, Hank Azaria, Janeane Garafalo, Paul Reubens, and Kel Mitchell in Mystery Men. Courtesy of Universal.

Mystery Men is about a year and a half away from marking its 25th anniversary but Kino Lorber recently released the film on 4K UHD.

It’s kind of weird. This is the sort of film that I probably would have seen when it came out in the late 1990s. After all, I am a Ben Stiller fan. As to why I did not watch this box office flop in 1999, your guess is as good as mine. Maybe it’s because of the film lasting two weeks in theaters. Anyway, the film has been available on 4K UHD since November 2022 and it is packed with bonus features.

The idea of a Champion City’s Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear) wearing a uniform with corporate sponsors is absurdity to the fullest. Take amateur superheroes Mr. Furious (Ben Stiller), the Shoveler (William H. Macy) and the Blue Raja (Hank Azaria) into account and there are no supervillains to fight anymore. In any event, Captain Amazing’s sponsors are not happy with this setback. What does he do? His alter-ego, Lance Hunt pushes for the release of supervillain Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush). Let me tell you that this is also a terrible idea from the get-go. Why would you want your nemesis back in the open? The villain immediately gets his team back together and captures Captain Amazing. Mr. Furious sees this happen and reports back to his team.

This leads to their recruitment of Invisible Boy (Kel Mitchell), the Spleen (Paul Reubens), and the Bowler (Janeane Garofalo)  It’s very hysterical how Invisible Boy can only be invisible when nobody is watching. Oh yeah, his clothing also falls off when this happens! In any event, The Sphinx (Wes Studi) witnesses their failures and offers to train them. With their new training skills and Mr. Furious briefly leaving before coming back, they set towards saving Captain Amazing. Because this is not a MCU or DC film, well, what happens next is one of the worst moments in the film. I mean, why in the hell would you kill off the hero and especially in that manner?!? During a press conference, they argue what to call themselves but a reporter refers to them as the Mystery Men.

Superhero movies were at a weird place in August 1999. Let’s catch you up really quick. Blade came out nearly a year before but it was a darker film and not quite one that would appeal to families of all ages. X-Men wouldn’t be released until the next summer and Spider-Man wasn’t coming out until 2002. Where were Batman and Superman in all of this? Well, they were taking an extended pause in terms of theatrical. The only place you’d find them were on TV. It was certainly nothing like it is today with Marvel and DC taking over the big and small screen.

While the film works as a genre spoof, it’s way too long. If it were up to me, I would have probably found a way to trim it by maybe 20-30 minutes. There are those comedies that earn their two-hour run time. Unfortunately, this film does not. But still, I got to give the filmmakers and comic book creator Bob Burden and the filmmakers for doing their best. Again, the genre was not in the best place at this point in time.

You know you’re watching a late 90s or early 2000s movie when Smash Mouth’s “All Star” is a part of the soundtrack. In this case, it’s playing an hour into the film and again during the end titles.

Mystery Men is admirable for its effort but falls short of the standards that we’ve come to expect in the spoof genre. Had this film come out well into the MCU run, it could have been so much funnier with a bit of tightening up the script and editing.

Bonus Features

DISC 1 (4K UHD):

  • Brand New HDR/Dolby Vision Master – From a 4K Scan of the Original Camera Negative
  • Audio Commentary by Director Kinka Usher
  • 5.1 Surround and Lossless 2.0 Stereo
  • Triple-Layered UHD100 Disc
  • Optional English Subtitles

DISC 2 (Blu-ray):

  • Brand New HD Master – From a 4K Scan of the Original Camera Negative
  • Audio Commentary by Director Kinka Usher
  • WE’RE THE OTHER GUYS!: The Making of MYSTERY MEN with Director Kinka Usher – Extended Version (30:00)
  • I’M A SUPERHERO, MOTHER!: The Costumes of MYSTERY MEN with Designer Marilyn Vance (12:00)
  • INSIDE CHAMPION CITY!: The Effects of MYSTERY MEN with VFX Supervisor Todd Tucker (10:00)
  • DISCO IS LIFE!: The Score(s) of MYSTERY MEN with Film Music Historian Daniel Schweiger – Extended Version (12:00)
  • Deleted Scenes (19:22)
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Dual-Layered BD50 Disc
  • Optional English Subtitles

DIRECTOR: Kinka Usher
CAST: Hank Azaria, Claire Forlani, Janeane Garofalo, Greg Kinnear, William H. Macy, Kel Mitchell, Lena Olin, Paul Reubens, Geoffrey Rush, Ben Stiller, Wes Studi, Tom Waits, Eddie Izzard, Artie Lange, Louise Lasser, Ricky Jay, Jennifer Lewis, Prakazrel Michel

Universal released Mystery Men in theaters on August 6, 1999. Grade: 3/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.