REVIEW: “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery”

Austin powers posterIt was 1997 when the wacky Mike Myers concoction known as Austin Powers hit the big screen. I still remember the large number of people talking about the movie and quoting it’s numerous lines. Yet, for one reason or another, I never took time to check it out even though it was really popular. Well that has changed and now I’ve seen “Austin Powers: International Man of History” but I wouldn’t say my movie watching life is the better for it.

Saturday Night Live alumnus Mike Myers created his Austin Powers character as a spoof of popular spy movies most notably the earlier James Bond pictures. It begins with a brief scene in 1967 of Austin trying to take out his arch nemesis Dr. Evil (also Myers). Dr. Evil escapes by jettisoning into space and placing himself into a cryosleep. For weird reasons unknown, Austin has himself cryogenically frozen only to be brought back if Dr. Evil resurfaces. Wouldn’t you know it, he does return 30 years later and Austin is brought back to hunt him down again.

The movie goofs around with several familiar gimmicks but its main thing is Austin as a man out of time. He was a big player in the days of free love and excess. The problem is, that brand of chauvinistic hedonism doesn’t sit too well in 1997. Dr. Evil also runs into his share of complications due to the changes in the world since his departure. Now there are some funny bits scattered throughout all of this and it’s politically incorrect silliness can be amusing. But it is the film’s bread and butter and quite honestly it grew tiring after a while. The culture shock angle is a big focus and how much you like the film may depend on how long you can stay with that.

AUSTIN POWERS photo

And if course there is Myers’ ludicrous antics and appearance. Sporting ridiculously bad teeth, a flowing mane of chest hair, and outfits that I don’t believe any normal person wore in the late 60’s, Myers clowns around with goofy poses and dialogue loaded with corny lines and overused innuendo. Now to be fair it’s all played as absurd and it certainly is that. But after a small dose it can be a bit taxing. Dr. Evil has some of the film’s funnier moments particular when his genetically created son Scott (Seth Green) appears. But even he grows old after a while. Perhaps the best thing about the film is watching the beautiful Elizabeth Hurley. I’m not saying she or her character is great, but watching her certainly made digesting everything else a little easier.

I know this film has its share of fans. I just can’t be counted among them and I can’t see myself checking out the sequels. Again, the movie does have its moments but most of them are drowned out by repetitious gags that quite frankly grew old. I spent most of the film stone-faced and that’s just not the reaction I’m looking for from a comedy. I certainly don’t begrudge anyone for liking it since comedy is so subjective. But I can think of a ton of other comedies I’ll be checking out before I watch this one again.

VERDICT – 2 STARS

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35 thoughts on “REVIEW: “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery”

  1. A pretty fair review Keith. I really do like Austin Powers and all of the others, but since I have watched them all sooo many times I too have hit that plateau where the jokes are all wearing thin and his misogynistic nature gets a bit annoying. some people’s thresholds are lower than mine and i can appreciate that. 🙂

    • Thanks Mark. Really didn’t work for me. Interesting idea about the age thing. I can’t help but wonder what my reaction would have been if I watched it at a younger age.

    • I love the point you bring up. You’re the second person to mention your affection for it at a younger age. As I said elsewhere, I can’t help but wonder what I would think of it if I saw it when I was younger.

  2. I’m on the other side of the fence as a fan of the series (but almost nothing else Mike Myers has done besides Shrek). Like you say in the review, though, comedy is highly subjective so I appreciate hearing a different opinion and can easily understand your point of view. This is the best of the franchise so if this annoyed you then yeah, you probably shouldn’t bother with the rest.

    • Thanks for commenting. I’ve heard others say this was the best of the films. You’re probably right, I don’t see the others appealing to me. But I am in the minority.

  3. Its corny and silly but I think at the time it came out we all needed a little of that. The HIV epidemic was really clamping down on the fun times started in the 80’s, drinking age was being pushed to 21 in a lot of states as drunk driving deaths were reaching all time highs. The fun had left the music scene in exchange for somber and serious views in the grunge and alternative music scene. The first terrorist attack on American soil had happened around this time (ironically at the Twin Towers). The films are barely watchable today but a lot of people did enjoy them when they came out. Does that make any sense?

  4. I’d certainly rate this above average, even though I haven’t seen it in a while. It has some great lines in it, such as…

    “Jimi Hendrix deceased, drugs. Janis Joplin deceased, alcohol. Mama Cass deceased, ham sandwich.”

    And…

    “The details of my life are quite inconsequential… very well, where do I begin? My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery. My mother was a fifteen year old French prostitute named Chloe with webbed feet. My father would womanize, he would drink. He would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark. Sometimes he would accuse chestnuts of being lazy. The sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament. My childhood was typical. Summers in Rangoon, luge lessons. In the spring we’d make meat helmets. When I was insolent I was placed in a burlap bag and beaten with reeds- pretty standard really. At the age of twelve I received my first scribe. At the age of fourteen a Zoroastrian named Vilma ritualistically shaved my testicles. There really is nothing like a shorn scrotum… it’s breathtaking – I highly suggest you try it. ”

    Being British, it was quite funny to see an American film with lots of colloquialisms unique to the British Isles. We have tons of slang words, and daft phrases, and in the context of the movie they made me chuckle.

    Avoid the sequels like the plague though.

  5. I have not seen it in ten years, but the first five years after its release I saw it a dozen times. I had the laser disc and it looked great. The humor was fresh once but the second film killed off my enjoyment of the movie. I am tempted to revisit since you are so down on it and that is the inverse of my original experience.

  6. You have to have the right mindframe to appreciate the humor in A.P. For some strange reason, I thought the first one hysterical and the others grew old. There’s bits and pieces of them (love the Burt Bacharach bus and black flips by Steven Spielberg) that crack me up every time. I’d rather watch this than Adam Sandler films…;)
    By the way, I’m always glad you stop by and like, but you miss my movie posts. I’d love your thoughts on two recent movie posts ….
    http://cindybruchman.wordpress.com/2013/09/14/history-in-films-the-patriot/
    and
    http://cindybruchman.wordpress.com/2013/09/09/film-spotlight-papillon/
    When you have time, of course!

    • You got it Cindy. Once again my reading has been down a bit. Some health issues with my mother-in-law and a few other items at work have made things a little more hectic than usual. Can’t wait to read your thoughts. Thanks for sharing the links.

  7. I agree, it’s not that great. It’s too much of a shtick and not enough of a character. I think it would have worked better if it had toned Austin down a bit, and maybe worked the isolation aspect into it better. There’s that one scene when he’s looking up all his old celebrity friends and realizing they all died of drug overdoses, but the rest of it is pure “Yeah, baby, yeah!” Comedy works better when it has a heart.

    • I think you’re exactly right. This thing went to the same gag over and over again. Ultimately you either like that or it grows old for you. I think that’s what happened to me.

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