Odd little comedy.
What if Pee-Wee Herman decided to become a detective? What if Encyclopedia
Brown was still looking for missing homework long after after he reached voting age? What if
The Adventures of Pete and Pete had been rated NC-17? Somewhere in that
imaginary universe resides The Mystery Team, a trio of 18-year-old nerds who
were once lauded as adorable geniuses when they ran their detective agency in
second grade. Other kids would give them a dime, and they would try to determine
who put the gum in Janie's bike spokes or who swiped the Pez dispenser.
Unfortunately, they are now high-school seniors and have not changed a single
bit. They still talk and dress like second graders and they still solve
mysteries for a dime. Their only dependable client is a senile woman who bakes a
hundred inedible pies per day. The three virgins are a source of disappointment for their parents and a
source of ridicule for their classmates. Until ...
One day a sad little girl comes to them and offers them their usual fee (ten
cents) to solve the murder of her parents.
They accept the case and find themselves in a word they don't understand, a
world filled with druggies, drifters, strippers, murderers and - worst of all -
people who get them angry enough to use bad language. (Normally they say things
like "Jeepers, creepers!" and "Oh, fiddlesticks!")
I give a thumb up to the young men who created this. While it is not a comic
masterpiece, it is original and consistent, and gave me a lot of good laughs.
They did a better job of sustaining a short skit premise for 90 minutes than any
SNL writers have done in my memory. If the film has any weakness, it's that such
an unbelievable premise can't work in a real world populated by genuine
characters, so all of the characters are required to be props rather than
genuine people with recognizable motivations. In essence, the fourth wall is
completely collapsed. No characters seem like real people, and no situation
seems like it could really happen. That sort of thing can work well in a short
sketch, ala Monty Python, but is difficult to prolong without becoming
monotonous. The first time they used a silly kiddie disguise to follow some
clue, it was funny. One of the kids dressed up like Freddie the Freeloader,
complete with a sack on a stick, in order to get some info from a fellow "hobo."
Before leaving the "hobo camp" (the back of a convenience store), the three
detectives blessed and thanked the drifter to prevent him from placing a dreaded
gypsy hobo curse
on them. Since the man was in a heroin daze at the time, he wasn't much
interested in their discourse, so they just kissed his forehead and moved on.
That was funny enough once, but the "kiddie disguise" gag kept getting
repeated, and it kept succeeding in the face of all logic. In order to get into
a "gentleman's club," for example, the mystery team members donned tuxes,
monocles and stovepipe hats, and affected British accents, whereupon the club
doorman admitted them, although their only IDs were hand-written. Of course the
handwriting never really mattered because those particular documents were school
IDs anyway, thus proving the lads too young to enter. No problem, they were able
to gain entry with their masterful disguises and a handful of filthy lucre.
(Maybe five bucks between them.) It was essentially a repeat of the hobo joke -
and by then the concept was getting tired, and required Python's "too silly" guy
You can get a few laughs here, and it's some oddly inventive and seriously
twisted material. Unfortunately it seems to be the same joke repeated again and
again, MacGruber style, and you'll have to suspend all disbelief to accept the
juxtaposition of the silly humor with a semi-serious murder mystery. If you
can do that, you just may find that the 90 minutes have passed fairly quickly.
Maybe it is "too silly,", but I kinda liked it and
don't regret watching it.