Monday, June 14, 2010

DVD Review: Mystery Team

I had been cooking this one in my brain stew for awhile now, and I still wanted my review to be funnier than it ended up being. I loved Mystery Team, just loved it. Yes, it has some flaws from a technical perspective and the third act is kind of meh, but good Lord did I laugh. I love the actors, love the concept, and love the general execution of this low-budget gem from a comedy troupe that is proving themselves to be tenacious. There's nothing more exciting than a bunch of talented people willing themselves to success.

Oh, and the best part of having a blog: I can include one of Derrick Comedy's best sketches here. Hell, I'll include two after the review.

DVD Discovery
The Hardy-Har Boys
Mystery Team solves the case of the missing laughs

The members of Derrick Comedy, an online sketch troupe that’s sort of like “Saturday Night Live,” back when “SNL” had fully descended testicles and imagination, have birthed Mystery Team from their collective comedy uterus. This microbudgeted bundle of joy is a mini-miracle, sporting a plot Adam Sandler would have loved to ruin with his cast of laughless lackeys had he been given the mainstream chance. Containing all four comedy food groups (toilet humor, booby jokes, physical gags and satire), Mystery Team is so good, it’s practically good for you.

The concept is simple enough for Will Ferrell to covet. Emotionally stunted grown-ass men are unable to move beyond their years spent as youthful sleuths and are still solving “where’s the kitten” and “who stole the ice cream” crimes even as they’re poised to enter college. Jason (Donald Glover) is the defacto leader and “master of disguise,” Duncan (D.C. Pierson) is the nerdy brainiac and Charlie (Dominic Dierkes) is the muscle. Except, Jason’s disguises wouldn’t fool a half-drunk Larry King without his quad-focals, Duncan’s intellect is based on a decade-old book of now obsolete odd facts he memorized and Charlie’s growth spurt has left him so lean that can barely lift his zipper.

When the docile, well-intentioned gang is tasked to solve the murder of cute, reformed goth chick Kelly’s (Aubrey Plaza) parents, they find themselves forced to confront darker deeds as well as changes to their lives (and bodies). Standing with one foot on the firm ground of marginal realism and the other in a sea of shenanigans, Mystery Team struggles through a third act that bends but never buckles.

Although each of the comedy collective has their moment, Glover is the standout here, as he is in the troupe’s YouTube sketches. Having spent time on the writing staff for “30 Rock” and currently starring in the funniest show on television, “Community,” Glover has to piss off his friends just a little with his undeniable mega-watt charisma. Who knows, perhaps Pierson and Dierkes did the lion share of the lifting in the communal script, helping blunt the blow of standing in their amigo’s ever-increasing shadow? What is unquestionable is that Glover is going to be ridonkulously famous in short order.

Director Dan Eckman deserves a “boy howdy” himself for his hand in preventing the film from looking amateurish, refusing to stoop to lingering over big laugh moments, even when tempted by a toilet sequence that’s down right Trainspotting-tastic. Striking the perfect balance of itty bitty giggles and humongous guffaws, the pace of the plot is less important than the incredible laugh ratio.

The film isn’t perfect, what with its clunky exposition and overreliance on certain gags, but Mystery Team is the announcement of something more important. With Ferrell, Sandler and the like passing their prime like kidney stones, a void has opened in the world of mainstream chuckle mongering. If Mystery Team is this laugh legion at their unfunded, inexperienced best, it may soon be considered simply the calling card of the future of comedy.

Grade = A-

Thanks for reading, as your reward, two of my favorite Derrick Comedy sketches, the latter features vulgarity a plenty but you're grown ups.






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