Tuesday, June 1, 2010



Finally, the long-awaited film from the minds of those silly kids at DERRICK’S COMEDY is up for mass consumption. The DERRICK’S COMEDY players, most notably Donald Glover, have been bending pop culture to their will of late. What started as a comedy troupe that pushed out a hefty, mesmerizing blitz of extremely to mildly funny YouTube videos went on to become the Internet hipster’s name-drop of choice, and caused a trending Twitter topic for the first black Spiderman (#donald4spiderman), has released a feature-length film, THE MYSTERY TEAM. This is what will most likely be remembered as the product that “made their mark.”

THE MYSTERY TEAM is a film about three high school seniors who want to still live their glory days as pint-sized detectives a-la THE LITTLE RASCALS. However, the R-rating on this film is a hard one. And while these guys are still living the glory days of solving cases like “sack-lunch fraud” and “two milks at lunch time,” the perverse world around them is closing in and forcing them to grow up.

The gag of a “forced maturing” runs through the entire MYSTERY TEAM film and is ground-zero for the bulk of the laughs. The film chooses at times to get dirty, and the dirtiness that is presented is so vile (such as the loss of a family heirloom in the vagina of a stripper) that the zaniness of the film is interrupted with hard, pornographic facts. Jason (Donald Glover), Duncan (DC Pierson), and Charlie (Dominic Dierkes) are also routinely verbally assaulted by Eric (Xavier Salazar), the ultimate foul-mouthed little kid.

What is a rather simple story is sidetracked and red-herringed so much that by the end of the film, all semblance of logic has been completely foiled. Jason, Duncan, and Charlie are hired for a dime by a little girl named Brianna (Daphne Ciccarelle) to find out who killed her parents. The mystery that Jason, Duncan, and Charlie soon find themselves completely consumed by runs deep and forces these arrested development case-studies to face reality and grow-up.

While working the viewer over with a haymaker of random witticisms such as the introduction and usage of hobo tips from a book called THE WANDERING TRAMP by S.A. Turkington and the use of catch phrases like, “Spill it, skillet,” the humor that should harness and bolster this film runs rather thin. Jason, the master of disguise, does wear ridiculous disguises and brutalizes accents, but such nonsense is only worth a smirk or two. Duncan, the boy genius, brings a host of silly facts to the table, but their demonstrated uselessness is ham-handed comedy at best. Charlie, the strongest kid in town, is a constant dolt-joke that never actualizes into anything. THE MYSTERY TEAM is some quirky fun, but it smacks of the type of cheap silliness that Sid and Marty Krofft presented on sugar-cereal soaked Saturday mornings back in the 70s.

The pacing of the humor in THE MYSTERY TEAM is much more like Chris Farley’s BEVERLY HILLS NINJA than something more frenetic like John Leguizamo’s PEST. Jokes about vomit, the consumption of dog urine, digging around in feces, and renting versus purchasing “eight balls of cocaine” are all grin-worthy, but THE MYSTERY TEAM lacks a specific scene that gives it comedy hall of fame rights, like the Baby Ruth in the pool from CADDYSHACK. Funny lines like, “Do you know what happens in jail? No TV.” are strong, but not strong enough. The mean-streak that this film flaunts is at times cringeworthy, such as when Leroy (Peter Saati) repeatedly tells his ditzy girlfriend Destiny (Kay Cannon) not to perform any fellatio while he is gone.

There is no question that THE MYSTERY TEAM is a comedy and built on the chassis of some great ideas. But it never completely finds its footing. It is a comedy in the sense that CORKY ROMANO or THE ANIMAL are comedies, but not in the sense of something great, like the aforementioned CADDYSHACK or even HAPPY GILMORE. THE MYSTERY TEAM is mostly a tedious diversion. Hopefully it is merely a placeholder before DERRICK’S COMEDY really delivers something worthwhile.

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