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Date: 4/23/99
Source: Entertainment Weekly

NOT-SO-GENTLE BEN Mr. Furious (Stiller, center) takes on the bad guys, aided by (from left) Azaria, Mitchell, Garofalo, and Studi

"Mystery Men"
Starring Ben Stiller, Hank Azaria, William H. Macy, Paul Reubens, Janeane Garofalo, Wes Studi, Kel Mitchell, Geoffrey Rush, Greg Kinnear, Lena Olin, Claire Forlani, Tom Waits

Directed by Kinka Usher

What's the big deal? A first-rate cast as second-rate superheroes.

Release date Aug. 6

IT SEEMS CURIOUS not to have men in tights fighting crime in the nation's megaplexes during the summer. Yet 1999 finds Hollywood's crime-fighting first string on the sidelines. ''Batman'''s in creative rehab, ''Superman'' can't get off the ground, and ''Spider-Man'''s still a few years away. But have no fear: ''The Mystery Men are here''. Hinging on a concept derived from ''The Flaming Carrot'' (an issue of the cult-classic comic book ''Mystery Men''), the movie stars Kinnear as Captain Amazing, the resident Superman of mythical Champion City. When he takes a leave of absence, the title team -- a group of wannabe heroes led by the angry Mr. Furious (Stiller) -- must defend this metropolis against the villainous Casanova Frankenstein (Rush).

But perhaps the most oddball aspect of the production is its eclectic cast -- none of whom you'd expect to find playing superheroes. "I'm the Bowler," explains the inimitably deadpan Garofalo. "I'm not that talented a bowler. The ball is very talented, as it has my dead father's head in it, and he was a great bowler." And you, ''Boogie Nights''' Macy? ''I'm the Shoveler. I shovel.''

Yes, ''Mystery Men'' is a comedy, imagining a world where being a superhero is at least as plausible as being a rap star. Says the Fugees' Pras, who plays Tony C., a baddie with an even badder Afro: ''It's as if you were sitting at dinner and some guy walked in dressed like this and really thinks that he has the flyest s--- on and doesn't feel out of place. That's what's funny about this movie.''