Thursday, February 12, 2015

Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery Review (Classic Write-Up)

You've Got The Touch...You've Got The Austin Pooooooowweeerrr
In an interview given a few months back, Daniel Craig noted that the primary reason elements like Biofeld, Q or fun gadgets had been seen in Bond films was that Austin Powers had parodied such tropes of the James Bond features in such a well-known manner that they couldn't use them, at least for the time. I find it interesting that Skyfall managed to incorporate some of Bond's most well-known aspects once again, suggesting that Austin Powers grasp on pop culture had faded enough for 007 to fight bad guys in elaborate lairs again.
Austin Powers, which started with this film, Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery, slow fade from modern day pop culture can be attributed to the popularity of Casino Roayle and Skyfall, but also to Mike Myers sharp decline in popularity. The Love Guru's atrocious box office and critical reception sent him sinking into obscurity, and he's only done two films (one a cameo, one a voiceover) in the years since. Watching this first "shagadelic" Austin Powers adventure doesn't make me yearn for a "Myerssance", but it does remind me he can be in a humorous adventure.

As the title likely informed you, this story centers on the one and only Austin Powers (played by Mike Myers), a "groovy" super spy from the 60's whose frozen so that he can face his adversary Dr. Evil 30 years down the line. When he's reawaken in 1997, he's faced with the daughter of his former partner, Vanessa (Elizabeth Hurley). The film smartly doesn't overplay gags showing Powers failing to adjust to modern (at the time) society, saving such jokes for one montage that's got some clever moments. Unfortunately, until that montage arrives, there's not much depth to Powers besides his womanizing streak, which grows into a tired shtick very quickly.

More amusing is Dr. Evil, also played by Mike Myers, whose a parody of notorious 007 baddie Biofeld, with whom he shares a penchant for baldness and petting a cat. Evil finds more success in laughs thanks to the recurring use of juxtaposing such a heightened antagonist with more mundane situations and dialogue. Scenes with his son, Scott (Seth Green), are some of the films best moments, especially when Scott notes how much easier it'd be to just shoot the captive Austin Powers instead of putting him into an elaborate death trap that also harkens back to classic Bond films.

The feature makes the smart decision to keep things short with a running time of 85 minutes, a clever move since Powers can become exhausting in various moments of the film even with the short length of the film. A three hour running time might have made him unbearable! While Myers writes the script, the directing duties are left to Jay Roach, who does fine, though admittedly not exemplary work. Still, he can take pride in the fact that, even removed by eighteen years, Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery remains mostly chuckleworthy. I was never bowled over with laughter, but it served as a decent timewaster and a nice look at how past generations perceived the legendary Bond franchise.

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