Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
Starring: Mike Myers, Elizabeth Hurley, Mimi Rogers, Robert Wagner, Michael York, Mindy Sterling, Seth Green, Will Ferrell
Directed By: Jay Roach
[Originally written July 14, 2005]
I’m not sure how, but somehow I managed to miss the Austin Powers craze of the late 90’s. I never went to see the flick, and then when it became a pop culture phenomenon, I didn’t really feel like seeing it. Hell, since it was around everywhere and everyone thought they had an Austin Powers impersonation, I felt like I’d already seen it by extension. A few years ago, I managed to catch it on a bus trip, but I must’ve fallen asleep or was too busy talking because a lot of the movie felt unfamiliar. So this is a review from someone watching it in full for the first time a few days ago.
Which is a bit unfair to the film, since it was such a huge part of pop culture when it came out, there’s no way to view it unbiasedly now. To use the horribly tired phrase, this movie is so 1997. Like the title hero (and his nemesis), it’s practically frozen in time itself, and watching it brings you back to the horrible time when everyone was saying “shagadelic, baby”, or “do I make you horny, baby”. *shudder*
So, jokes that may have made me laugh were I to have seen it when it first came out make me roll my eyes now. I’ve seen so many clips of this flick that the jokes are already old. But, the thing is, I’m not sure if they would’ve been that great anyway. Mike Myers‘ style is to push a joke two or three (or four or five) beats past it being funny, in the hope that the pushing of the joke itself will be funny. It’s a knowing wink to the audience that has made him a very successful man, but got old with me around the time of Wayne’s World.
In fact, pretty much all of Austin Powers’ schtick got old for me very quickly. Like many films from Saturday Night Live, clever comedic premises (like the James Bond of the swinging-sixties parody) that would or have worked great in five minute segments fail to connect for a feature length film. The jokes are pretty obvious and juvenile, piss and fart jokes that I’ve never really enjoyed (well, not since making fart noises with my hands stopped being the height of comedic genius). The parody of the film is clever, but the jokes fall flat.
Well, I should say that most of the jokes fall flat. While Austin Powers himself does little for me, I do find Myers’ other character in the film, Dr. Evil, to be quite funny most of the time. Dr. Evil saved the movie for me, I loved his out-dated plans for world conquest, I loved his interactions with his son Scott (Seth Green), and loved the scene where he and Scott go to group therapy. That all made me laugh, even though I knew of most of the scenes.
But, he wasn’t funny enough for me to give the flick a passing grade. Again, who knows, if I had caught the movie back when it meant something, I may have thought more of it. But, that speaks to the staying power of the film, which is to say that there isn’t much. Now I have to decide if I wanna watch the sequel that I also borrowed.
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)
Starring: Mike Myers, Heather Graham, Michael York, Robert Wagner, Rob Lowe, Seth Green
Directed By: Jay Roach
[Originally written September 22, 2005]
Having just seen the original film in full recently, and finding myself unimpressed, I didn’t have high hopes going into watching the sequel. In fact, if I had not borrowed the two films simultaneously, I wouldn’t have even bothered to watch the sequel. The thing is, I only watched the first one (which I had already half-seen before) so I could get to the second one, because Heather Graham is hot.
I should have quit while I was ahead. Actually, since I gave International Man of Mystery a failing grade, I was already behind, and was farther ahead when I had lived a mostly Austin Powers-free life before watching either film. The second film in the franchise adds the characters of Mini-Me (Verne Troyer) and Fat Bastard (Mike Myers, giving him a triple role for the film, along with playing Powers and Dr. Evil), and absolutely nothing else. Everything else in the film is a complete re-hash of the first film, with the same jokes with the same set-ups and the same punchlines. Dr. Evil still has problems understanding what era he is in, this time he’s in his own past thinking things are like the future he was last in (or present… whatever). Scott Evil (Seth Green) still hates his dad and points out the flaws in the film’s set ups. Austin seduces obvious agents of Dr. Evil with his stupid come-ons. Heather Graham is a hot agent that teams with Austin, just as Elizabeth Hurley did in the first. The additions of Mini-Me and Fat Bastard don’t really add anything to the film, as each are obvious, one-joke punchlines pushed about ten jokes too far.
Basically, the entire exercise is retarded, and not in a good way. How retarded is it? So retarded, that it can only be described as thus: I don’t know if I’ve ever seen such a phoned-in effort of re-hashed jokes & tired excuses for comedy. The # of unfunny piss & fart jokes in this flick is beyond annoying. I couldn’t even laugh @ Dr. Evil anymore, as his shushing of Scott & gratuitous music video scene w/ Mini-Me each went about 5 minutes past being funny. The % of the funny parts compared 2 useless parts of this movie is somewhere around 5, maybe, & that’s being generous. The jokes are about as cheap as the movie looks, which makes it surprising that the film had a 33 million $ budget. Where did they spend all those $? After you – the money spent on the fat suit & the useless Madonna song on the soundtrack, what else in this crappy flick cost money? The big *s? I don’t think so, since Mike Myers is the biggest * in the movie. Heather Graham couldn’t have cost much. On the + side, she does look great. On the – side, she still can’t act. The saddest part? This unfunny copy of a fairly unfunny movie had made over 205 million $. To which, I can only ask: movie-going public, where is your head @?
Basically, the whole thing is an absolute train wreck of a movie that only reminded me of how stupid the original film was in the first place. And, no, I will not be watching Goldmember.