2 August 2018 | Jared_Andrews
A Dumb movie made by Smart people that somehow works, even though it probably shouldn't
'Mystery Team' is a quirky little marvel. A concept that makes much more sense as a 10-minute comedy sketch is stretched into a 90-minute feature film and only really has one joke, but somehow it works.
That speaks to the talent of creative minds behind the project. They manage to take a marginally funny idea that becomes stale rather quickly, and somehow, they will this whole vehicle to keep trudging forward. Like MacGyver rigging up the device he needs out of whatever is laying around, the guys from Derrick Comedy enthusiastically squeeze the last drop out of everything at their disposal and get the job done.
The plot: three best friends work as detectives, calling themselves The Mystery team. For a hefty fee of a dime, the group will take on any case that comes their way, which is typically limited to the petty misdeeds of seven-year-olds. The team's exploits were charming when they were also seven, but they're now high school seniors, and their behavior makes them outcasts among their peers (but greatly amusing to movie viewers).
That's the primary joke of the movie-these kids are too old for this stuff. They're awkward and immature. They still think girls are icky. There isn't much to the bit, but the filmmakers have an advanced sense of when to smartly weave in secondary story elements and hilarious supporting characters to keep things entertaining. All the actors appear very aware of what movie they're in. They play their parts without an ounce of self-doubt and just the right level of cheesiness.
It becomes apparent very quickly that while the movie is dumb, it's made by smart people. It leans into its own absurdity. The actors are playing 18-year-olds but look 25 and act like they're seven. The Mystery Team members behave as if they're in a G movie despite all the debauchery from everything and everyone around them being decidedly hard R.
The silly, small-scale hijinks is given reason to become a full-length movie when a sad little girl asks The Mystery Team to solve her parents' murder, and they find themselves involved for the first time in a very adult case. Relying on their usual tactics and disguises, they manage to make impressive progress on the mystery, despite looking ridiculous every step of the way.
That's part of the brilliance of this movie. It's ridiculous because the characters are ridiculous, and it knows that. Many of jokes don't land because they aren't meant to. They're meant to emphasize how goofy and awkward these wannabe detectives are in every human interaction.
It's obvious from watching this film that the creative team members were capable of more. Glover became a superstar and the other members of Derrick Comedy all found their niche in writing or performing. Many of the supporting actors also landed more lucrative roles in movies or TV.
This is by no means a classic. The stars may look back on this and cringe, but they shouldn't. It's a better movie than most will give it credit for, and it's the one that will live on as what was a sign of greater things to come for this talented ensemble.