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Mystery Team

December 10, 2010

Mystery Team

What caused me to stop and notice this film a few weeks ago while shopping was the fact that Donald Glover, who plays Troy on Community on NBC, was in this film, and he is one of the funnier characters on Community.  So I decided I would check out this film, this film is what the book series Encyclopedia Brown would be like if he grew up.  It take a child like innocence from the main characters and completely destroys it as the case becomes real instead of the normal who stuck their hand into the pie.

Jason, Duncan and Charlie are best friends and have been for years.  When they were younger they started their own detective agency taking on the small cases of the town, such as lost pets and eat pies, and while the people of the town had thought it was cute when they were young, it wasn’t so much now as they were seniors in high school and far from being normal.  Jason is a master of disguise, Duncan is the boy genius, and Charlie is the muscle, but none of them really live up to their billing.  They case load changes when a girl comes to them with a murder to solve.  The police are already looking into it, but they have no leads, so the Mystery Team decides to take on the case.  They end up in way over their head, but Jason forces them to keep going because he has fallen for their clients older sister, played by Aubrey Plaza (also in Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World).  Things fall apart and their friendship is on the ropes as both Duncan and Charlie plan to go to college after graduation whereas Jason thought they were going to be detectives forever.

The type of humor in this film is generally fairly awkward and risque humor.  There is a fairly odd interaction at a strip club that wouldn’t be all that funny normally, but is fairly funny because of the innocence of the characters and their lack of knowledge when it comes to women.  Much of the humor is like this, but less risque, based off of the characters innocence and lack of common sense.

The acting in the film is actually pretty good for it being a small (I believe direct to DVD) film with not all that large name talent in it.  Donald Glover is good, as he is in Community, and he does a good job progressing as a character throughout the film.  Aubrey Plaza is fine in her limited role, she doesn’t get much of a chance to shine in it as most of the jokes are made around her character by the Mystery Team instead of by her, which is to bad in many ways, because she had some of the funnier parts in Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World.  D.C. Pierson and Dominic Dierkes are both quite funny in their roles as Duncan and Charlie, and Dierkes has many of the funnier parts as he is the most socially clueless of all the characters and most clueless when it comes to the Mystery Team as well.  There are some other decent bit performances as well, nothing that blows you away, but good for a film as small as this one.

Dan Eckman, the director, doesn’t do anything all that impressive with how this film is shot, but he doesn’t make any notable mistakes with it either.  For being his first non-TV film directorial debut, it wasn’t all that poorly constructed.  He does a good job with the pacing of the comedy to, this detail is something that is often lost and tends to make a lot of comedies that should be funny crash and burn horribly.  Eckman does have some notoriety already having directed the short: “Bro Rape: A Newsline Investigative Report” and “National Spelling Bee” which have gotten a fair amount of recognition and play on Youtube, he is a young director that looks like he could have a comedy future ahead of him.

This isn’t a comedy that is extremely funny, but it delivers a number of good laughs.  As Eckman gains more directorial experience, I think he will be able to make much funnier comedies, and I think that Glover will also become a comedy name.  This is worth checking out for being fairly off the wall in what it does and the type of comedy which is uses to get laughs.  There are some parts, though, that are just stupid as well, but some of them get laughs.

Entertainment Grade: B-

Critical Grade: C

Overall Grade: C+

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