It 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.
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.