"This is real detective stuff!"
When they were seven years old, the Mystery Team were three kids living in the same neighborhood in Oakdale who played at being precocious pre-teen detectives. With Jason (Donald Glover) as "the Master of Disguise," Duncan (D.C. Pierson) as "the Boy Genius" and Charlie (Dominic Dierkes) as "the Strongest Kid in Town," they would spend their afternoons getting to the bottom of such crimes as missing tricycles and stolen pies, charging ten cents (or fruit roll-ups) for their services.
However, while their peers have moved on to more mature pastimes now that they're eighteen years old, Jason, Duncan and Charlie are hopeless nerds stuck in pre-adolescence as they prepare to graduate from high school. Convinced all they need to do is prove their crime-busting talents to regain the respect of their peers, the Mystery Team step into a new class of detective work when a little girl asks them to find out who killed her parents.
The guys are up for the challenge, but it isn't long before dealing with real (and truly dangerous) criminals gets them in hot water...
Created and produced by members of the comedy troupe DERRICK, Mystery Team received its world premiere at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.
- Adult Child: The main characters and Jamie (Ellie Kemper's character). Jamie turns out to be crazy/"disabled", and as for the boys, Duncan only keeps it up out of friendship. He and Charlie actually applied to college while Jason didn't.
- Affectionate Parody: Of Kid Detective series in the Encyclopedia Brown / Three Investigators mode
- The Aggressive Drug Dealer: Jason offers this explanation when he can't tell Kelly the real reason Leroy is after him.
- And the Adventure Continues...
- Cannot Tell a Joke: Charlie tells a funny, fitting joke... and then proceeds to tell the EXACT SAME JOKE not one minute later, in an entirely inappropriate situation.
- Cheerful Child: Brianna, the girl who hired the Mystery Team in the first place. Well, cheerful for a girl whose parents just died.
- Coincidental Accidental Disguise: One of Jason's disguises actually works because it so happens there's a costume party in the building and the guard assumes he's there for that rather than buying his claim that he's a mexican plumber.
- Country Matters: Leroy uses it on his girlfriend Destiny.
- The Ditz: Charlie. They're *all* pretty dumb, but Charlie takes the cake. He did manage to get into college somehow, though he can't even keep straight which college.
- Flexing Those Non-Biceps: Charlie does this when he says, "And I'm Charlie, the strongest kid in town."
- Girls Have Cooties: When his mother suggests he go to a party with girls, Jason simply says that girls are gross.
- Good Cop, Bad Cop: Used on Brianna the little girl that hired them when they initially interview her. Subverted in that they tell her they're playing pretend and she thinks its fun after that.
- The Guards Must Be Crazy: Jason actually tricks a lumberyard employee into giving him Leroy's address by claiming to be Leroy and asking for the address the lumberyard has for Leroy in its computer; Leroy needs it since he plans on moving to Guam.
- Just a Flesh Wound: "Ow! I was shot there!"
- "Big deal, I been shot like three times!"
- Insane Troll Logic: Duncan's basic reasoning behind drinking dog urine as a method of sanitizing his hand after having reached into a filthy toilet: Dogs' mouths are cleaner than those of humans, dog urine is easier to procure than dog saliva and must be equally clean, and drinking it is more efficient than rubbing it on your hand.
- Kid Detective: The main characters, despite being 18. The film focuses on them maturing out of this role. They feature:
- Life Isn't Fair: If life was fair, Jason would have gotten a bike for his birthday instead of that stupid car.
- Misfit Mobilization Moment: The ending, to an extent.
- Motivational Kiss: Played more or less straight, except that Jason doesn't actually know how to kiss and just blows into the love interest's mouth.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: For most of the movie Jason's disguises don't work. He disguises himself as a mexican plumber which basically means bandito with a plunger, but the security guard lets him pass because its a costume party.
- Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure
- Precision F-Strike: Delivered by Duncan after a fight.
- Prison Rape: The standard "You know what happens in jail?" line is subverted when Duncan ends it with "No TV!"
- Raging Stiffie: The trio sport awkwardly noticeable tents after receiving lap dances.
- Refuge in Vulgarity
- Saying Too Much: Several instances.
- "I wish they'd all disappear like the lost colony of Roanoke. But they'd probably go, 'What's Roanoke?' And I'd go, 'Shut up, Caleb. '"
- "Following your dreams is never stupid, unless you dream about water and then you pee the bed last Thursday."
- "Forensic pathologists study the dead. Goths dress like the dead and date closeted gay guys named Ember."
- "We won't tell the police." "Oh man, now you sound like Dad."
- Shout-Out: The movie's first mystery involves the culprit sticking his fingers in a pie to see if it felt like a vagina like in that movie.
- Strange Minds Think Alike: Jason sees a photograph in Kelly's book about forensic pathology and disgustedly exclaims "Someone stole that guy's face!" Much later, when Robert gets a firecracker to the face, the police officer who finds him says the same thing.
- Trademark Favorite Drink: Chocolate milk for the trio.
- Vomit Discretion Shot: Zigzagged. When Duncan vomits up the dog urine mentioned above in "Insane Troll Logic", he's off-camera for the actual act...but the vomit itself projects into the shot and all over Jordan and Kelly.
- Whoa, Bundy!
- Wrong Genre Savvy: The essential gag.
- You Wouldn't Shoot Me: "Because you're not a killer." Immediately subverted.