Back in the halcyon days of elementary school, best-friends Jason (Glover) Duncan (Pierson) and Charlie (Dierkes) formed a detective team that never heard about a neighborhood mystery they wouldn’t try to solve. Calling themselves “Mystery Team,” they set-up a makeshift booth in Jason’s yard that is eerily similar to Lucy’s “Psychiatric Help” kiosk in the “Peanuts” cartoons and proceeded to help find lost pets and diffuse all other forms of innocuous local emergencies. Cut to modern times and the Mystery Team are still at it, even though they’re all about to graduate high school, still ride dorky bikes, refuse to curse and think girls are gross. Yes, the three of them have refused to grow-up and real life is about to show up and bite them in the a*s as a little girl hires them to find out who has killed her parents. Never ones to turn down a customer, the three are soon involved way too deep in a real mystery.
Lest you think this movie will then become serious, let me be clear: it doesn’t. At all. Ever. In fact if I had to compare “Mystery Team” to a movie it would be “Napoleon Dynamite” but mixed with “Hot Fuzz” because for as sweet and naïve as the Mystery Team are, there’s all sorts of gross and inappropriate scenes in the film that definitely earn it an “R” rating. In a case of cinematic rope-a-dope, “Mystery Team” acts sweet and innocent but is really filthy at its core and for that, I kind of loved the film.
As Jason, Duncan and Charlie begin to unravel the murder mystery, they bump into all sorts of unsavory characters that force them to confront their own immaturity. Strippers, hookers and sleazy dealers all fly in the face of the self-preservation bubble the mystery team has constructed for themselves and it’s these scenes where worlds collide that up the ante and make “Mystery Team” feel like the long lost druggie brother of Napoleon Dynamite. Glover (he, of recent improbable casting choices for Peter Parker), Pierson and Dierkes (who form the comedy troupe “Derek Comedy”) play brilliantly off one another and it’s clear they’ve been working as a group for some time. The always cynical and acerbic Aubrey Plaza also turns in a nice performance as Kelly, the eldest daughter of the murdered family and rounding out the NBC comedy vibe (Plaza is on “Parks and Recreation” and Glover is on “Community”), “Saturday Night Live” regular Bobby Moynihan is funny for once as a mini-mart clerk who serves as a warning for what can happen when you hold on too long to childish ambitions.
Again, let me be clear: “Mystery Team” is a very silly and dumb movie, but I thought it was funny. It’s also extremely vulgar and if you like the gross-out humor thing, you’re going to like this film. After the first five minutes I wasn’t sure if it was going to appeal to me as the coy and sweet stillborn teen comedy film has been done to death, but then “Mystery Team” takes it up a notch and becomes truly disgusting and I found myself laughing out loud much more than I ever expected and for that, the film is a winner.