Sundance Movie Review: Mystery Team

Before I start my review, I think I better give you a little background.

I’m not a big fan of sketch comedy, and never have been.

I have never been able to completely place why this is, but I think it might have something to do with the obnoxiously over the top characterizations and the flat stage like set-up of most of these types of shows and films. I go to a movie theater to see something cinematic, and not just a glorified SNL sketch that has been enlarged to fit the big screen. Most sketch comedy-based films also have flimsy plots that are so thinly held together with a series of comic beats. I’m a story guy and this just doesn’t work for me. All of that said, I absolutely loved Derrick Comedy‘s Mystery Team.

Mystery Team is a film about a group of former Encyclopedia Brown-type child-detectives who have yet to grow up and are still solving stupid crimes during senior year of High School. When an 8-year-old hires the team to solve a case of her parents double murder, the Mystery team must face the first adult case in the team’s history. Mystery Team is incredibly well written. The Derrick comedy group have perfectly captured the feeling of reading an Encyclopedia Brown type mystery on acid. The characters are all well developed, the performances on level of “the not ready for primetime players”, a compelling story, and laugh out loud moments at every turn. But I was most impressed in the film’s cinematography, which tries much harder than any other sketch comedy film that I’ve ever seen before. It is the difference between feeling like Reno 911 and feeling like an actual movie (albeit, shot on digital video).

I had never heard of Derrick Comedy before /Film readers started sending me links for the Mystery Team trailer. But apparently they’re already a pretty big deal on the YouTube scene, with a rather large internet following. Mystery Team has the potential to be huge. It’s funnier and more original than 99% of the comedies Hollywood releases now-a-days. At very least, the film will develop a cult following. But I have a feeling that Derrick Comedy is on the edge of becoming huge. These guys are more than just a funny music video (Lonely Island) and are consistently funny and compelling (unlike Broken Lizard and Reno 911, who both have their moments, but not much more).

The whole Derrick comedy team is great, but Donald Glover is definitely that standout of the group. I should also mention the wonderful Aubrey Plaza, an Upright Citizens Brigade player who makes her feature film debut in this film. Even though she is confined to play “the straight man” in this adventure, you can tell that we’re going to be seeing a whole lot more of her.

/Film Rating: 8 out 10

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About the Author

Peter Sciretta is a film geek and popcultured fanboy living in Los Angeles. He created /Film in 2005.

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