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Mystery Men
Offbeat comic book inspired 'Mystery Men'
By Andy Argyrakis

Hey now, want to check out an all-star cast in the brand new "Mystery Men"? Movie buffs around the nation did just that to see Ben Stiller, Hank Azaria, Janeane Garofalo, Geoffrey Rush, William H. Macy, Paul Reubens and Kel Mitchell hit the big screen.

The "Mystery Men" concept doesn't come from the Smashmouth song "All Star" (although it is featured in the soundtrack), but rather from a Dark Horse Comics series. Dark Horse publishes "Flaming Carrot," a story based on a superhero whose head is, well, a flaming carrot. According to the official Mystery Men site, Flaming Carrot goes into his Uncle Billy's attic and reads every comic book in existence. When he's finished, he decides he wants to fight crime, and he goes on to battle a variety of odd super villains.


Flaming Carrot

After reading all the comics, Flaming Carrot combines the superheroes in each and simply names them the "Mystery Men." Dark Horse later released "Mysterymen" comics.

The unique thing about the Mystery Men heroes is that they lead pretty average lives and would not seem like the type to save the world. That said, saving the world is probably beyond the powers of heroes like The Bowler, The Blue Raja, The Spleen, The Shoveler, Invisible Boy and Mr. Furious.

Although they may not have names like Superman or Spider-Man, these characters do take on similar, if humorous, personas.

The cast list of superstars obviously has garnished extra attention to "Mystery Men," but one star actually needed some coaxing to join the project. Ben Stiller of "There's Something About Mary" and "Permanent Midnight" fame said he had to think about taking the part of Mr. Furious.

"Ultimately it was the combination of the cast and the story and the opportunity to play something close to approximating a superhero," said Stiller on the film's Web site. "I knew it's the closest I would ever get to having a chance to be anything resembling a superhero. I don't get the calls for the Batman movies."

"It's been a little crazy working with these people," he added on the same site.

Ben Stiller as Mr. Furious
Ben Stiller as Mr. Furious

"It's such a weird mix of actors. It's been great, but strange. I never thought I'd be doing scenes with Geoffrey Rush, and I never thought I'd see Paul Reubens sticking his butt into a limo and letting loose on an Academy Award winner -- thank God I'm here!"

At a press event with the rest of the cast Stiller elaborated further.

"It's a weird experience," said Stiller in regard to the time in the studio. "Sometimes you just get giddy at the end of the day too because you've been doing [a scene] so much. ... It just becomes ridiculous because you're just saying the words over and over again."

Despite the craziness and repeated lines, the actors and actresses had to stay cool and in character during the taping. "Generally I think you have to take what you're doing pretty seriously, within what you're doing," said Stiller. "[When filming,] take a scene seriously. Otherwise if you try to, like, kind of try to be funny, then it sucks."


8/11/99


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