January 4, 2011

Justify My Netflix: Mystery Team

(Like many Netflix customers, I too can get quite lax with the timely watching and returning of my movies, which of course defeats the entire purpose of having a flat-rate rental plan in the first place. To combat that, I am now writing standardized mini-reviews of each and every movie I end up watching through Netflix, both instantly and on DVD. Don't forget, all previous 'Justify My Netflix' reviews can be found on CCLaP's main movie page.)

Mystery Team

Today's movie: Mystery Team, 2009 (Amazon | IMDB | Netflix | Wikipedia)

Why I added it to my queue: Because the premise seemed promising when reading about it in Netflix's "New Releases" list the other month -- the feature debut of upstart comedy team "Derrick Comedy," it's about three former "Encyclopedia Brown"-style boy detectives who are now hopelessly nerdy high-school seniors solving their first murder, billed as a raunchy comedy for grown-ups where the humor comes mostly from the irony of these adult actors playing squeaky-clean kids in a postmodern world.

The reality: Well, that's the problem with renting random movies based solely on their dust-sleeve write-ups, is that sometimes you get winners and sometimes clunkers; and this is definitely one of the clunkers, a messy Frankenstein of a movie that can't decide exactly what kind of film it even wants to be. Because it turns out that this is not a raunchy adult comedy after all, but instead follows a script that is on the level of a legitimate crappy kids' movie -- you know, not a fun kids' movie but the kind of overproduced Marmaduke crap that the studios sh-t out by the dozens every year, full of scatological humor and the kind of cloyingly saccharine scenes of sincerity that are only able to emotionally move six-year-old girls. So who exactly is this for? Adult slackers are going to be turned off quickly by the execrable quality of the script; but actual kids are going to be confused by the concept of these nerdy grown-ups ironically playing children, and parents furious at the amount of cursing and crude sex jokes found within. (And by the way, is there any more an overused comedic cliche in Hollywood by now than to have a small child scream a curse word for easy laughs? Anytime I see a movie do this, I sigh and resign myself to what always turns out to be a long night; and Mystery Team not only does this but actually relies on the gimmick a full six or seven times, a strong indicator of the rest of the type of humor you can expect from this slow-motion trainwreck.) Although I'm a big fan of when comedy teams take matters into their own hands, and self-produce a no-budget feature like this for the purpose of bringing attention to their tours and short work (see for example "The State" spinoff project Wet Hot American Summer), in this case the gambit badly backfires, making me not want to seek out even the group's more traditional work after getting done with this profoundly disappointing film. Buyer beware.

Worth your time? No

Filed by Jason Pettus at 11:28 AM, January 4, 2011. Filed under: Movies | Reviews |