Sundance Review: Mystery Team

By Josh Tyler 2009-01-22 20:19:25discussion comments
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ďIf Encyclopedia Brown, the kids from American Pie, and Nancy Drew all had sex, their baby would probably look something like Mystery Team.Ē Thatís the description being used as the Mystery Teamís official plot synopsis, and I canít think of anything more perfectly appropriate for one of the funniest surprises at Sundance this year and a sure thing to become the next big cult hit, should someone have the good sense to pick it up and put it in theaters. Mystery Team go!

Mystery Team is the story of three kids who spent their childhood solving mysteries. They set up a stand in their front yard, with a roughly scribbled sign proclaiming theyíll solve anything for ten cents. Jason is the Master of Disguise (Donald Glover), Charlie is the Strongest Kid in Town (Dominic Dierkes), and Duncan is the Boy Genius (D.C. Pierson). When they were seven it was cute, only now theyíre 18 and still running around trying to find out who stuck his finger in Mrs. Minkeís pie. Jason is now some idiot with a bunch of fake mustaches, Charlie is a dim bulb who stalkís the schoolís real jocks, and Duncan is just some guy who once memorized a book of fun facts. The people around them see them for what they are, but they donít. Jason, Charlie, and Duncan live in a fantasy world where there are glorious mysteries to be solved. What would happen if Encyclopedia Brown got older, but forgot to grow up? Heíd be these guys, three social pariahs spectacularly ill-equipped to deal with adulthood and the real world.

The film then takes these already hilarious characters and thrusts them straight into the middle of their first big time, serious case. This time instead of lost bikes, a little girl hires them to discover the identity of her parentsí murderer. Mystery Team has its first real mystery, and our naÔve characters are thrust into a host of frighteningly adult, and ridiculously hilarious situations. Imagine Encyclopedia brown confronted with a real dead body, or forced to sneak into a strip club. Three incredibly innocent, confused characters are thrust into a raunchy, violent world of drugs, sex, and murder and the results are insanely hilarious.

Itís more than just funny though. Thereís actually a good mystery too. In a sense, Mystery Team is a comedy built on the bones of a sharp, well-made, classic mystery movie. Itís the type of great detective story thatís long gone missing from movies and television, itís Columbo but done up with hilarious characters and raunchy, snarky wit. Think Apatow does Agatha Christie and youíll get some inkling of the pleasures Mystery Team has in store.

Mystery Team needs to be seen. Itís fresh, itís unique, and funnier than hell. Itís the kind of movie thatíll rock midnight showings full of jubilant, nerds for years to come. Itís the Rocky Horror Picture Show of mystery movies. Somebody buy it! Release it! Mystery Team has zero blockbuster potential, but itís got cult hit written all over it.

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