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‘Mystery Team’ Go!

2010/06/10

There was a time on this earth when I knew a lot about sketch comedy groups and took pride in the knowledge of discovering something new and great.  Alas, much like my talent for finding fabulous underground music, the combo of age, family and lackluster personal effort have left me a dud unable to stumble on the pulse much anymore.  So you can imagine my thrill when I find something that’s not already huge, if not completely unknown at this point.  So is the feeling I have when I pushed Derrick Comedy’s Mystery Team to the top of my ‘must watch immediately’ list based on the strength of member Donald Glover’s work on the NBC comedy Community

Sidebar:  Not enough of you are watching Community.  Look, last year was a great year for new sitcoms, I love Modern Family as much as anybody, and I’m still surprised at how freaking hilarious every episode of Cougar Town was, but for the love of all that’s holy, Community is better than both of them – much more absurd, and jam-packed with talent from top to bottom, both veterans arising again (Chevy Chase somehow found the funny again), and new talent that’s going to be around a long time (Glover and castmate Daniel Pudi).  There’s not much on this summer, so start checking this show out now.

Back on track: Mystery Team is big-time ridiculous – and I mean that in the most flattering manner possible.  The two movies that pop into the noggin when trying to illustrate this point are Anchorman in it’s ‘big stupid’ mentality and The Brady Bunch Movie for it’s stunted-fish-in-modern-water execution.  In short, this is intentionally dumb, but played straight in a most effective way.

The Mystery Team set-up introduces us to a band of three eighteen-year-olds still gloriously stuck in the mindset of their glory days as seven-year old boy detectives, with an impressive win-loss ratio of cases ranging from stolen baseballs to murdered frogs.  They dress the same as they did then, they talk the same as they did then, they think the same as they did then.  And are seemingly oblivious to their current address on the Boulevard of Complete Outcasts.  But their stunted growing pains are starting to crack the unity of the group, as adulthood and real life are beginning to creep in.

However, our heroes Jason – the master of disguise, and heart of the group (Glover), Duncan, the Boy-Genius (D.C. Pierson) and Charlie, The Strongest Boy in the Neighborhood (Dominic Dierkes) are approached one morning, as the future of the team is on the precipice, by a six-year-old girl with a dime to pay for a case.  This case, however, is the double-homicide of her parents.  Despite protests from Duncan, Jason seizes the opportunity as Mystery Team’s chance to prove they deserve the respect due true detectives, and off we go.

What ensues is a pretty decent rookie effort.  Much like The Kids In The Hall effort Brain Candy, an understanding and appreciation for the group dynamic certainly wouldn’t hurt going in, but unlike BC, it’s not fundamental to enjoying it.  There’s a certain amount of raunch in here, serving mostly as comedic juxtaposition for the three protagonists pre-teen functioning thought processes, but it’s not overwhelming or intrusive.  Mystery Team is not the greatest comedy I’ve ever seen, nor is it revolutionizing anything.  There’s a unevenness to the execution as well, and some of the gags just lay down and die….but a lot of them don’t, and any movie featuring a scene that made me laugh so hard I stopped breathing for a second or two gets a check in the ‘well done’ category.  Given the mode and medium, and the fact this one went straight to home markets, it’s a heck of a great debut from a trio of guys that clearly get it, and should be around for a lot of years to come.  If this had been something I saw for full-price in a theater, I might have judged it a little more harshly, but it cost me about a buck to watch it, and value counts for a lot here.  5 out of 7.

And for more Derrick Comedy, visit their website at http://www.derrickcomedy.com/videos/ . I’m particularly fond of ‘Gink’.

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