Bottom Line: Totally shagadelic!
“I think you’re shagadelic, baby! You’re switched on! You’re smashing! You’re shagadelic, baby!” –Mike Myers as Austin Powers
Directed by: Jay Roach
Starring: Elizabeth Hurley, Fabiana Udenio, Michael York, Mike Myers, Mimi Rogers, Mindy Sterling, Paul Dillon, Robert Wagner, Seth Green, Will Ferrell
Generally, I try to stay away from anything that can be instantly categorized as a “dumb comedy”. Movies featuring names like Adam Sandler and Jim Carrey can be very funny, but after having watched three or four of their humorous works, the gags become routine and you have a good idea of what to expect. Don’t ask me why, but the Austin Powers series strikes me as something immensely different. Yes, these films are dumb. Writer-actor Mike Myers parades so far over the top with his outrageously stupid sense of humor that he actually seems someone at the brilliantly comic level of Mel Brooks. Likewise, the results are so terrible that they’re great. I have trouble settling on what films I would consider “guilty pleasures”, but without a doubt, this series–particularly this film, the primary work–would be the point at which I would start.
AUSTIN POWERS: INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY is an accumulation of several goofy “James Bond” lampoons, plotted out and solidified into one singular montage. Our hero, Austin Powers (Mike Myers), is never defined as a spy; from the similitude he shares with Ian Fleming’s 007 himself, we are left to assume. After being frozen in homeostasis for three decades, Powers is thawed out in 1997, only to be pitted against his arch-nemesis, Dr. Evil (Mike Myers again) in a world with which he is unfamiliar. When we first meet the protagonist in this…colorful comedy, we can’t quite get used to him, and it’s sometimes hard to recognize this as a “Bond” parody. The story relies on plot points and objects rather than characters (unless you count the risqué, Bond girl-esque names) to impose similarities (i.e. the “laser beam-wielding sharks” gag near the end is similar to the scene near the end of LIVE AND LET DIE in which Bond is lowered into a shark tank). Powers is a ladies’ man, yes, but it seems that’s the only fashion in which such an absurdly quirky character bears resemblance to such a suave one. It’s the point at which fans of that other series must ask themselves whether this was intended to be a parody of the characters, or if it was a heavily overlooked misstep.
“It’s Dr. Evil, I didn’t spend six years in Evil Medical School to be called ‘mister,’ thank you very much.” –Mike Myers as Dr. Evil
Although it certainly does not come without flaws, and it does not come with any particular brain, AUSTIN POWERS has the tendency to be funny. In its utter stupidity, it has absolutely no right whatsoever to make us laugh so hard. But it does and it succeeds. This isn’t a film everyone will enjoy. Again, when I hear the term “guilty pleasure”, this would be the first to come to mind. But for those who enjoy an hour and a half of foolish entertainment every so often, I’d highly recommend it.