Cast: Jason (Donald Glover), Duncan (DC Pierson), Charlie (Dominic Dierkes)
Director: Dan Eckman
Theatrical release: 08/28/2009 (limited) DVD Date: 05/25/2010
Rating: R Running Time: 97 minutes
— ♦ —
Review: This is not the typical film I watch, but I had seen a short snippet a long while ago when Derrick Comedy (the five members of which direct, produce, and act in Mystery Team) was trying to get a distributor, and I was slightly hooked. The film only made a limited theatrical release, so for all practical purposes it is direct-to-DVD.
Jason, Duncan, and Charlie are high school seniors, a month from graduation, and still cling to their boyhood dream of being detectives -- the Mystery Team. For 10 years, they've advertised themselves as being "Oakdale's best kid detectives. No case too hard, no case too tough." When the game is afoot, they're on it -- like, in the opening scene, identifying who stuck their thumb in a freshly baked pie. Then a new client, a young girl, shows up one day.
"I'm Brianna. I have a mystery for you to solve. Here's a dime."
"What can we do for you ma'am?"
"Just fill out this form real quick. Mark the box by the appropriate mystery. There's lost kitten, hopscotch dispute, sack lunch fraud. Kids your age are our best customers and also guilty of nearly 100% of the cases we solve. Whatever it is, we can handle it."
"Can you find out who killed my parents?"
Anxious and determined to prove they're real detectives, they set off to find the killer.
Mystery Team is mostly a series of sight gags, many of which are laugh-out-loud funny. The costumes the team uses as disguises are particularly noteworthy. No doubt produced on a micro-budget, the production values are reasonably high, the direction crisp. And there is actually a credible murder mystery plot at the center of it all, though it is clearly not the focal point of the film. Whenever the storyline veers off-topic -- a potential romance for Jason, post-graduation plans for the Mystery Team -- the film drags a bit. But overall, given my initial low expectations, it's a surprisingly entertaining film -- not one I'd see again, but worth the rental.
Mystery Team is rated R for extensive profanity (but not on the part of the Mystery Team itself, who pride themselves on being "clean"), female nudity (a long sequence is shot in a strip club), and crude sexual dialog.