American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
"Mystery Men" has moments of brilliance waving their arms to attract attention in a sea of dreck. It's a long, shapeless, undisciplined mess, and every once in awhile it generates a big laugh. Since many of thel aughs seems totally in the character of the actors who get them, they play like ad libs -- as if we're hearing asides to the audience.
The premise: Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear) is the top-rated superhero in Champion City, a special-effects metropolis made of skyscrapers, air buses and dirigibles. He wears sponsor badges on his leather suit (Ray-O-Vac, Pennzoil) like Indy 500 drivers, but the sponsors are growing restless because his recent exploits are tired and dumb.
The problem with this strategy is that Casanova is smart and the Captain is dumb, and soon Amazing is the villain's captive. That makes an opening for second-string superheroes to try to rescue Amazing and enhance their own reputations. The B team includes The Blue Raja (Hank Azaria), who hurls forks and spoons with amazing strength; Mr. Furious (Ben Stiller), who gets bad when he gets mad, and The Shoveler (William H. Macy), who whacks people with a spade. They're joined by new hopefuls, including The Spleen (Paul Reubens), whose weapon is voluminous flatulence; the Bowler (Janeane Garofolo), whose father's skull is inside her transparent bowling ball; Invisible Boy (Kel Mitchell), whose invisibility has to be taken mostly on trust, since you can't see if he's really there; and The Sphinx (Wes Studi), whose sayings make the Psychic Friends Network look deep.
At the ripe age of 89, Oscar can still be a notoriously picky fellow when it comes to what constitutes a contender fo...
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