Sketch comedy usually doesn’t work on the big screen. For every “Wayne’s World”, you have three “Night At The Roxberry”s. A huge reason for this is it is hard to capture an audience in a long form. Going for storytelling with a 4 minute running time is a different beast to tame than storytelling with a 94 minute running time. Characters suited for in a 4 minute lifespan are easy to stomach while having those same characters in a 94 minute lifespan can lead someone to have dysentery. The once New York City based sketch comedy troupe, Derrick Comedy has made the risky leap onto the big screen, but with solid storytelling, interesting characters and honestly absurd comedy, this leap has become a success.
“Mystery Team” is the story of three childhood friends who start a business solving mysteries. For 10 cents, the Mystery Team will find the culprit of whomever knocked over your trash can or who stuck their fingers in Mrs. Kimmel’s pie. When they were 7 years-old, they were celebrated and loved by everyone. Now they are 18 year-old high school seniors, they still continue to solve mysteries around their neighborhood, only they are all in the same mindset as if they were 7 years-old. An interesting commentary on arrested development, not wanting to grow up, and being forever young. Childish, cartoon-ish and somewhat annoying, the mystery team aggrevate their entire neighborhood. When they are hired to solve a murder mystery, the team has to grow up fast if they want to earn their dime and solve this case.
“Mystery Team” is a delightful revelation! Cleverly written and wonderfully put together, it’s really something seeing this film hit these cinematic marks so well. I’d like to see what the people at Derrick Comedy could do with a bigger budget. No doubt it would be something special. Making its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009, “Mystery Team” embodies what it means to be small, to be independent and to be cinematic. Not to say this movie isn’t funny, it is. It’s sight gags, reactions and absurdist dialogue is sharp and quick witted.
The DVD is full of great bonus features. A commentary track with all of the members of Derrick Comedy that rewards repeat viewings. A short film titled “Who Is Wally Cummings?” brings to light the exploits of one of the extras featured in “Mystery Team”, a real revealing “Making of” documentary that shares the experience of “Mystery Team” with it’s audience and a strange feature simply called “Sword Club”. Dan Eckman, the director, explains the origins of sword club with me in a recent interview.
A new comedy for a new generation and we can reap the rewards of its very talented cast. Three of which are featured in current NBC sitcoms, Donald Glover on “Community”, Aubrey Plaza on “Parks & Recreation” and Ellie Kemper on “The Office”. This small movie has gained somewhat of a cult status among a small, but growing, crowd, and it’s easy to see why. “Mystery Team” is an experience to share with a group of people. “Mystery Team” is to Derrick Comedy as is “Wet Hot American Summer” is to The State. A first venture into an adult world that might not be ready for them, and in that way it is just like its protagonists.