James Helsby

LRE #29: Mystery Team

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Little Red Envelope

In my mailbox this week:
Mystery Team

Release Year: 2009

Staring: Donald Glover, D.C. Pierson, Dominic Dierkes

What would happen if Encyclopedia Brown refused to grow up? Or Nancy Drew? Or the Hardy Boys? When high school reaches its end, the Mystery Team are forced to make some hard choices about their lives.

I am not usually a fan of Sundance movies. I find them to either be full of themselves, overly independent, or just plain ‘hipster.’ Perhaps that is just my interpretation of the hipster response, instead of the original intention of the film. Regardless, Mystery Team felt more like something I would have made myself, in my  youth.

God, I say that like ‘my youth’ was such a long time ago. I mean, I am just barely over 30. I am not that old. But that was what was so great about this movie, the character and jest in which they are portrayed are hilarious caricatures of persona’s I could see my friends taking on.

The Genius (Duncan, played by D.C. Pierson). Well, not really. He picked up a book of interesting facts when he was a kid and memorized every one of them. Useless information repository? yes. Genius? no.

The Muscle (Charlie, played by Dominic Dierkes) Once known as the strongest kid around. His muscles never grew anymore powerful than the day he was 10. But still, he acts his part.

The Leader (Jason, played by Donald Glover) Lives each and every day in hopes that a new mystery will land on his doorstep; be it who put his finger in the Mrs Perkins pie, or who drank all the milk at lunch.

But just when the reality of their age (18 and graduating) and social status (losers, with a capitol L) starts to set in, they are hired by a sweet little girl, for a dime… to find out who killed her parents.

Most would immediately turn around and say ‘no way, go to the cops,’ but not Jason and the Mystery Team. A double homicide is just the opportunity to prove to their peers, and parents, that they haven’t completely wasted their lives.  But things are never quite so simple.

So begins a pretty enjoyable movie. I mean, it definitely feels low budget. Single camera shots, simple locations and lighting, and amateur actors and strippers. But you know what, don’t let that detract you from the film. It was actually pretty damn funny, and enjoyable.

The plot plays out just like you would anticipate. Each and every scene is right where it should be. The major twists are pretty predictable. Things play out like some sort of combination between your own home videos (you know, I wasn’t the only one to make movies when I was a kid) and a Saturday Night Live sketch act. It’s funny, but in a non-slapstick way.

If you have the room, it’s a good movie. Watch it with a nice stiff drink in your hand. Not that you need to social-lubricant, but because it helps encourage the laughter. And if you are anything like me, you will laugh quite a bit.

How painful was it:  Not bad. Had a very ‘independent’ feel to it, but still was really watchable.

Rating: 7/10. For a Sundance movie, it wasn’t full of itself.

The Wife’s Retort: I agree. Not too bad, and I don’t regret the time. Still I don’t think it was all that great.

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