By: Andrew Ward (Three Beers) –
Remember when you were seven and pretended to fight crime? Some of you may have even acted as detectives trying to solve local mysteries like Encyclopedia Brown. Fast forward eleven years and you will find the Mystery Team, still in the same mindset now as 18 year olds solving crimes for the elderly and small children. The team of three high school outcasts with a motto of “No case too hard, no case too tough” put their claim to the test when a young girl named Brianna asks the boys to solve the murder of her two parents.
The Mystery Team is made up of Derrick Comedy’s Donald Glover, DC Pierson, and Dominic Dierkes. They include Duncan (“The boy genius,” Pierson), Charlie (“The strongest boy in the world,” Dierkes), and Jason (“The master of disguise,” Glover). The fans of Derrick’s work know what to expect: a witty, College Humor style of comedy that you will either love or be turned off by. For good examples see their famed Bro Rape video and a bit that I can only comfortably write the title as N*****F*****.
Over 8 Million Hits and tons of terrible spoofs.
If you grew up seeing College Humor themed videos being posted, then you know that you will find hits and misses in every bit. This is the same with Mystery Team. The good thing about Derrick is that they have three quality comedic writers on their team. Their training at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade shows in the bits they put in the film. Acting out the stereotypes of hobos, high schoolers, and “gentlemen” based on the books we all read as kids is absolutely hysterical. The balance of acting like kids, yet clearly growing up is evolved well and allows for the feeling of a solid, organically grown film.
This is exactly what I thought a gentleman was when I was seven
Although Derrick is a polished comedy group, their filmmaking is not. It may have been the budget, but something had the film looking somewhere between a senior video project in college and a low-budget indie release. The editing is consistent and shows good quality, but there is something that is lacking. This is far from a deal breaker in the film, but it does get noticed from time to time.
As a fan, this one hurts but Aubrey Plaza just didn’t do it for me in this film. On Parks and Recreation, her role as April, the dry, apathetic young girl works for the show, yet, a lot of that is also seen in Mystery Team. Maybe this is because the movie was done a few years before the TV show but it had me feeling that Plaza can only play the same character. She has great comedic talent, but if this is the only character she can play her comedy will soon get filed under the Michael Cera school of comedic acting.
Overall Mystery Team works as a witty film, showcasing great comedic performances from the three great minds of Derrick Comedy. Donald Glover just seems like a breakout star that is going to rise past his great TV work on Community and soon carry his own films. I really think he could transition to serious work as well (he was considered for the role of Spiderman in the Marc Webb reboot that is coming out soon).
Mystery Team also benefits from great supporting cameo bits from Bobby Moynihan, Ellie Kemper, and Matt Walsh. Kemper and Moynihan are familiar to Derrick’s bits and Walsh has been a go-to comedy bit actor in films for years now. The film won’t end up in the pantheon of stellar comedy films like Airplane and Caddy Shack, but it should be recognized as a great effort from an up and coming group of comedians. There are so many talented people in this film that in a few years there is a good chance this film will be looked at as the beginning to a few of their lengthy comedic careers.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time one of your childhood memories are played out on screen.
Drink a Shot: for every cameo you can recognize.
Take a Drink: for every curse word that is replaced by a word parents used to use around you as a little kid.