Austin Powers International Man of Mystery

  • Title: Austin Powers International Man of Mystery
  • Director: Jay Roach
  • Date: 1997
  • Studio: New Line Cinema (et. al.)
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Cast: Mike Myers, Elizabeth Hurley, Mimi Rogers, Robert Wagner, Seth Green, Carrie Fisher, Michael York
  • Format: Color, Widescreen
  • DVD Format: NTSC, R1  (My DVD is double-sided, widescreen on one side, standard on the other — I hate that!)

“Now, Mr. Evil…” UN Leader
Doctor Evil, I didn’t spend six years in evil medical school to be called Mister, thank you very much.” — Doctor Evil

“I’m going to place him in an easily escapable situation involving an overly elaborate and exotic death.”  — Doctor Evil
“All right guard, begin the unnecessarily slow-moving dipping mechanism.” — Doctor Evil
“Aren’t you going to watch them? They could get away!” — Scott Evil
“No, no, no, no, I’m going to leave them alone, and not actually witness them dying, I’m just going to assume it all went to plan. What?” — Doctor Evil.

The first and best of the three Austin Powers movies — it’s also a fantastic parody of the James Bond franchise (Especially, Dr. No and Goldfinger), the Matt Helm series (The Silencers, Funeral in Berlin, etc — and yes, unfortunately I did have to look that up), Our Man Flint and In Like Flint, and The Ipcress File and it’s sequels. Plus TV shows like The Avengers and Laugh-In. (Yes, the scene breaks with the dancing and psychedelic background come from TV’s Laugh-In). But the movie is also a fish out of water story, and even a bit of a romance. Plus it features a lot of great music and I really wish the soundtrack was available, even though I have about half the music already.

Austin Powers features what you’d expect in a parody of James Bond films – sight gags and clever word play, such as the name of  Michael York’s “M”-like character – “Basil Exposition”, which is a great name for the guy who explains what’s going on and gives Austin his assignment. One thing Austin Powers does particularly well is play on the sexual innuendo of the James Bond films but often visually, using suggestive objects to cover a “naked” Austin or Vanessa in the background. And then there’s “Alotta Fagina” – Number Two’s confidential secretary. But seriously, is “Alotta Fagina” any worse than “Pussy Galore” from Goldfinger? And where many of the Bond films have been rated R — Austin Powers is rated PG-13.

Austin is Britain’s number one secret agent (or International Man of Mystery, as the film calls him) in the 1960s, but when his nemesis, Dr. Evil escapes by freezing himself, Austin also has himself frozen. When Dr. Evil returns in 1997 – Austin is woken up as well. Both Austin and Dr. Evil have trouble adjusting to the ’90s. Dr. Evil has trouble coming up with a plan to bribe the world — since many of the plans he comes up with have already happened. Austin’s extravagant look and sexually-charged behaviour don’t fit in, either. Austin flirts with Ms. Kensington (Elizabeth Hurley), the daughter of his old partner Mrs. Kensington (played by Mimi Rogers in a black leather cat suit as a wonderful reference to Mrs. Peel of The Avengers), but she is having none of his sexual references that, really, could almost be called harassment, though Austin doesn’t know any better. Gradually, Austin learns and also wins over Ms. Vanessa Kensington.

Meanwhile, Dr. Evil has his own troubles, trying to get to know his teenaged/young twenty-something son, Scott (Seth Green). They even give group therapy a try and the therapist is Carrie Fisher!

As Austin is adjusting to life in the ’90s, he’s sent to Las Vegas with Vanessa undercover to Virtucon – Dr. Evil’s lair, headed by Number Two, played by Robert Wagner. In Las Vegas, Austin starts to realize just how out of step he is with the times, as Vanessa gets angry at him for sleeping with Alotta, and bar-hoppers poke fun at his outfit. The scene that really defines Austin is, as he’s sitting alone in his hotel room, trying to catch-up — he puts a CD on a record player, and of course, it scratches. He makes a list of famous friends of his, all of whom are dead, he even sits and watches a videotape of great events of the last thirty years that he missed. Vanessa catches the melancholy Austin and they make up and go after Dr. Evil at his lair.

Dr. Evil’s plan, of sending a missile to the core of the earth causing every volcano on the planet to erupt – comes straight from Dr. No, as does the costumes and set — the James Bond parody of the movie (that and Dr. Evil’s white Persian cat in the opening sequence). While trying to stop Dr. Evil, Austin and Vanessa are caught and escape. They split up and Austin encounters the Fembots (which I actually loved!), Austin defeats the Fembots with a striptease of his own – both funny, and kinda’ neat (neither Austin nor Mike Myers are on the Top Ten sexiest men list, now are they?) – yet, sexy. But, I also loved how Vanessa actually trusted Austin enough to believe him.

In the end, Austin actually marries Vanessa — another great thing about this film. I mean, seriously, does James Bond ever marry the women he messes around with?  (With the exception of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service — and the girl, Bonanza-like, dies immediately.) And the relationship between Vanessa and Austin is an important part of the film. Also important is the dysfunctional relationship between Dr. Evil and Scott Evil.

Vanessa, her mother, and even Frau Farbissina are also all strong, professional women – portrayed wonderfully.

Overall, Austin Powers International Man of Mystery is a fun film to watch. I’ve seen it several times and always enjoy it. There are several great lines. The cast, including the cameo cast, is brilliant, and, personally, I also enjoyed the “Swinging 60s” music. When watching the film, be sure to watch all of the credits to catch Mike Myer’s “BBC One” music video.

Recommendation: See it!
Rating: 5 Stars (out of 5)
Next Film: Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me