Wayne’s World

  • Title:  Wayne’s World
  • Director:  Penelope Spheeris
  • Date:  1992
  • Studio:  Paramount
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Cast:  Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Rob Lowe, Tia Carrere
  • Format: Color, Widescreen
  • DVD Format:  R1, NTSC

“I’ve had plenty of ‘joe jobs’ – nothing I’d call a career. Let me put it this way – I have an extensive collection of name tags and hair nets.” – Wayne Campbell

“Sometimes, I wish I could boldly go where no man’s gone before, but I’ll probably stay in Aurora.” – Garth

“Aren’t we lucky we were there to get all that information? Seemed extraneous at the time.” – Wayne

Wayne’s World  felt very much like a 1980s movie to me when I re-watched it, so I was surprised to see the copyright date as actually 1992. The story is about two best friends, Wayne and Garth, who live in Aurora, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. The two have a local public access TV show that they film in Wayne’s basement called, “Wayne’s World”, and the film was developed from the Wayne’s World sketches on Saturday Night Live. However, in the film, the clips of Wayne and Garth doing their Wayne’s World show are the least successful parts of the film (they are very dated, and often fall flat).

The strength of the film, the part that shines, and still works, is that it’s a buddy film. But whereas most “buddy films” are cop films – Wayne’s World is about these two guys, good friends, who are into heavy metal music, and not taking life too seriously. The film also continuously breaks the fourth wall, as usually Wayne, addresses the audience directly. Garth, normally the quieter and shyer of the two – also, occasionally, addresses the audience. The film even features the occasional subtitle that comments on the action, such as “Oscar Clip”. The constant breaking of the fourth wall gives the film a surreal quality and an avant-garde edge. But that doesn’t mean the film is overly serious. Quite the opposite – it’s very, very funny. It’s also filled with clips of great music, and a lot of singing (almost exclusively cover versions of popular music).

The basic storyline is that Wayne and Garth have this cable access show, Wayne’s World, that they put together every week, more-or-less as a hobby, though Wayne, at least, would like to do Wayne’s World as a career. One night, Benjamin Oliver, an unsavory ad exec is flipping channels and he sees the show. He thinks it’s the perfect vehicle for his biggest client, the owner of a chain of video arcades called Noah’s Arcade. He wants to move the show to a cable network, have Noah’s Arcade sponsor it, and use it as a vehicle for, essentially, half an hour’s worth of advertising for the arcade. Benjamin’s plot works in that he gets Wayne and Garth to agree to his contract, though when Wayne gets on set he blows up and refuses to do product placement (in a hilarious scene in which at least half a dozen different products are prominently placed and used). Benjamin meanwhile sows discontent between Wayne and Garth, and gets Wayne to think his girlfriend is cheating on him. But it all works out in the end (well, in the third alternate ending).

But the film’s point isn’t really the plot. The characters, Wayne and Garth, and their close friendship – a friendship that is threatened but recovers – is at the heart of the film. Also, the idea of personal happiness being more important than money or what others call success is a subtext of the film. Yet, at it’s heart the film is just very funny – and enjoyable to watch. Wayne and Garth’s personal optimism and infectiously happy outlooks make the film enjoyable to watch. The frequent music, covers, and sing-alongs add to the fun.

Overall, one of the oddest things about the film might just be the frequent anachronisms. The entire set-up, the “Wayne’s World” cable access show is something that barely exists now. However, a real-life Wayne and Garth these days could easily do their own show on youTube, or create a regular podcast. Wayne and his new girlfriend, Cassandra talk on landline phones that include a cord. Benjamin’s client owns coin-operated video arcades. The famous, and awesome, sing-along to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” starts with Wayne putting a cassette tape into the car’s tape deck (though later Wayne, at least, upgrades to an external CD drive). The film doesn’t so much look dated as have moments of, “Oh, yeah, that’s how we used to do things.” Though, it’s Garth who mostly correctly describes how he will bounce the special “Wayne’s World” episode featuring Cassandra’s performance off several communications satellites (which Garth mentions by name/number) – today such dialogue would be simplified to “bounced off several satellites”) to Mr. Sharpe’s limo to get her a  record contract. Even the three endings reference older films, such as Clue. It felt at times, like a window into the past.

Overall, I found Wayne’s World to be enjoyable to re-watch, mostly because it was just so happy. Wayne and Garth’s attitude towards women notwithstanding (Garth continuously talks about women as “babes” but can’t get up the courage to talk to the pretty blonde he keeps spotting in their neighborhood.) It some ways the film was also like an updated American Graffiti in that it portrays a time and a place, though it’s less serious in content and tone. Still, it’s fun, just plain fun.

NOTE:  I normally don’t mention DVD menus, but this one with the cable access opening is funny. Also, there are a number of hidden features on the menu (which looks like a cable TV on-screen guide).

Recommendation:  See it
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Next Film:  When Harry Met Sally…

Shrek Forever After

  • Title:  Shrek Forever After
  • Director:  Mike Mitchell
  • Date:  2010
  • Studio:  Dreamworks
  • Genre:  Animation, Romance, Comedy, Musical
  • Cast:  Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderes, Julie Andrews, John Cleese
  • Format:  Color, Widescreen Animation
  • DVD Format:  R1, NTSC

“You have three beautiful children, a wife who loves you, friends who adore you, you have everything.  Why is it that the only person who can’t see that – is you?”  — Fiona

I bought the Shrek films in a complete set, and it turns out the only one I hadn’t seen was this one, the fourth and final Shrek film.  This time around, Shrek goes through a mid-life crisis, fearing he has lost his “roar”.  He makes a deal with Rumplestilskin to have one day as an fierce ogre again in return for giving up one day of his own life.  However, Rumplestilskin takes the day Shrek was born, creating a weird alternate universe where Fiona’s parents no longer exist, Rumplestilskin rules Far Far Away with an Iron Fist and the help of a troop of evil witches, and Fiona Warrior Princess leads a band of less than successful ogre rebels.  Donkey pulls a wagon for a pair of evil witches, meanwhile Puss-in-Boots no longer wears his boots and hat, no longer fights, and has gotten very over weight.  Moreover, since Shrek was never born, after 24 hours he will cease to exist, making all the changes permanent.  It’s sort of Shrek does “It’s a Wonderful Life”.

However, I still enjoyed this film.  Overall, the first film is the best, but all four, including this one, manage to keep the characters in character and true to themselves.  Even the alternate universe Fiona, Donkey, and Puss, all ring true to themselves.

Shrek discovers that if Fiona experiences “True Love’s Kiss” her curse will be broken, and Shrek also will be freed from his contract with Rumplestilskin.  However, when Shrek finally kisses her — she hasn’t fallen in love with him.  However, never fear, the film has a happy ending, and Fiona kisses Shrek a second time, having fallen for him, she and everyone else is returned to the birthday party that Shrek had stormed out of.  The ending credit music is, “I’m a Believer”, as in the first film.  This is found by a montage of “best of” scenes from all four films.

Again, I enjoyed the film.  This time the theme is more about being grateful for what you have, rather than themes of self-acceptance,  but it’s still a well-thought out movie.

Recommendation:  See it!  May as well complete the set.
Rating:  3.8 out of  5 Stars
Next Film:  Singin’ in the Rain

Shrek the Third

  • Title:  Shrek the Third
  • Director:  Chris Miller
  • Date:  2007
  • Studio:  Dreamworks
  • Genre:  Comedy, Romance, Musical, Animation
  • Cast:  Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Justin Timberlake
  • Format:  Color, Widescreen Animation
  • DVD Format:  R1, NTSC

“I know what it’s like to not feel ready for something.  Even ogres get scared, you know, once in awhile.”  — Shrek

“OK, girls, from here on out, we’re gonna’ take care of business ourselves.” — Fiona

In the third Shrek installment, Fiona’s father, the King, dies, and leaves Shrek as his heir.  But Shrek isn’t ready, and thinks the kingdom won’t accept an ogre as king — until he finds out, on the king’s deathbed, that there is another heir, Arthur.

Shrek decides to go with Donkey and Puss-in-Boots to find this lost heir.  Just before he leaves, Fiona tells him she’s pregnant.  Shrek is nervous and slightly terrified at the prospect of becoming a father.

Meanwhile, all the princesses and her mother give Fiona a baby shower.  This is thankfully interrupted by Prince Charming, who has gathered all the evil-doers in Far Far Away to attack the castle.  Charming, a frustrated actor who was failing at dinner theatre, is still trying to impress his mother, Fairy Godmother, by becoming king and taking over the kingdom.

Although Fiona, the Queen, and the princesses initially escape, they are betrayed by Rapunzel (who has made a deal with Charming to become his wife and defacto queen of Far Far Away).  Once in a dungeon room, the princesses (Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty) all announce they will wait to be rescued.  Fiona thinks they should rescue themselves, but isn’t sure how.  The Queen breaks them out of the dungeon cell — and Fiona liberates the Princesses.  I loved this scene, especially the bra burning. The Princesses, the Queen, and Fiona then attack the castle to rescue Shrek, and defeat Prince Charming.

However, during the final conflict at Charming’s show (a play starring Charming and Rapunzel in which Charming defeats Shrek and wins the Princess), Shrek and Arthur convince all the villains they should be who they want to be, and fulfill their dreams.  Charming, however, is not taken in by this – as all he wants is control of the kingdom.  Shrek and Artie manage to defeat Charming.

Instead of the big musical number to end the film, this one has a montage of Shrek and Fiona as new parents to three little ogres.

Overall, I really liked the Liberation of the Princesses part of this film (including the combat montage to “Barracuda”; the second plotline — Shrek and Donkey (with Puss-in-Boots) on yet another quest to a distant land felt like it had been done.  Charming’s rousing of the villains was interesting – but by the end of the film I actually felt kinda’ sorry for Charming.  I think the film could have done a better job of  being fair to his character — he almost became a cardboard villain so to speak.  Also, with a lost boy king named Arthur, I expected Arthurian/Holy Grail/etc type gags, but other than a psychedelic Merlin the film completely ignored that opportunity.

There also isn’t as much in the way of  sight gags and verbal wordplay as their has been in the previous two films.

Recommendation:  See it
Rating:  3.5 out of 5 Stars
Next Film:  Shrek Forever After

Shrek 2

  • Title:  Shrek 2
  • Director:  Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury, Conrad Vernon
  • Date:  2004
  • Studio:  Dreamworks Pictures
  • Genre:  Animation, Musical, Romance, Comedy
  • Cast:  Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Julie Andrews, Antonio Banderas, John Cleese, Jennifer Saunders
  • Format:  Widescreen, Color Animation
  • DVD Format:  R1, NTSC

“Stop!  I have misjudged you!” — Puss-in-Boots
“Join the club — we have jackets.”  — Shrek
“On my honor, I am obliged to accompany you until I have saved your life and you have spared me mine.” — Puss-in-Boots
“I’m sorry, the position of annoying talking animal has already been taken.”  — Donkey

In the second Shrek movie, Fiona and Shrek return from their honeymoon to an invitation from Fiona’s parents to go visit them in Fiona’s home kingdom of Far Far Away.  Fiona thinks this is a great idea and is sure her parents will love Shrek.  Shrek is considerably less sure, and is convinced meeting his in-laws will be a disaster.  They make the long and boring trip to Far Far Away (depicted as Hollywood) only to have the King and Queen be shocked that Fiona has married an ogre, especially the king.  Fairy Godmother, meanwhile, a conniving woman, plots to get her son, the swarmy mama’s boy, Prince Charming married to Fiona, as the King had promised.

This round, it’s Shrek’s turn to show his insecurities, especially about his looks as an ogre.  He takes a potion which turns he and Fiona human (and Donkey into a white horse).  Fairy Godmother and the King try to get Fiona to fall for Charming, but in the end — she tells Shrek she loves him.  And she wants to be with the ogre of her dreams.

Like the first Shrek film, Shrek 2 is filled with great sight gags, inside jokes, word play, and reversals of typical Disney-style fairy tales.  It also pokes fun at the Hollywood Fairy Tale as well.  Puss-in-Boots, voiced by Antonio Banderas is a great addition to the cast.  And, like the first film, the music is great (particularly Fairy Godmother belting out a jazzy rendition of  “Holding Out for a Hero”).

Recommendation:  See it!
Rating:  4 of 5 Stars
Next Film:  Shrek The Third


  • Title:  Shrek
  • Directors:  Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson
  • Date:  2001
  • Studio:  Dreamworks Pictures
  • Genre:  Animation, Musical, Comedy, Romance
  • Cast:  Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, John Lithgow
  • Format:  Color, Widescreen, Animated
  • DVD Format:  R1, NTSC

“Bachelorette Number Three is a fiery redhead from a dragon-guarded castle surrounded by hot boiling lava. But don’t let that cool you off. She’s a loaded pistol who likes pina coladas and getting caught in the rain. Yours for the rescuing, Princess Fiona!”  — Magic Mirror

“You know, Donkey, sometimes things are more than they appear.”  — Shrek

 “It’s the world that seems to have a problem with me. People take one look at me and go, ‘Oh help, run!  A big, stupid, ugly, ogre.’ They judge me before they even know me. That’s why I’m better off alone.”  — Shrek

Shrek takes the typical Disney-style Fairy Tale and inverts it, casting the Ogre as the hero who must rescue the Princess. But not only that, Shrek pokes great fun at Disney and as traditional Fairy Tales and even nursery rhymes. It’s almost like watching a parody of the Disney Fairy Tale genre; and the sight gags and verbal humor work very well. But what Shrek is also about is being true to yourself, seeing yourself as beautiful for who and what you are, and coming to terms with the “real you”. And that is a very good message to be sending to kids and teenagers — especially girls, but boys too. Because, for all that Shrek seems to be comfortable with his Ogre lifestyle — he’s also completely alone. And although at first he seems happy that way, very early on in the film, Donkey becomes his friend, and eventually Shrek and Fiona realize their feelings for each other and are married. Or, at least, become a couple.

The film begins with a musical introduction of Shrek, a content and happy ogre. When townspeople show up with pitchforks and burning torches — he runs them off. Meanwhile, all the fairy tale, magical, and even nursery rhyme characters are being rounded-up by Lord Farquaad. Farquaad dumps these “unwanted creatures” in Shrek’s swamp. Shrek wants peace and quiet, so he goes off to Lord Farquaad’s castle, fights off the Lord’s champion knights, and agrees to take on a quest:  he will rescue Princess Fiona, in return for Farquaad giving him his swamp back.

In a fairly standard fairy tale way, Shrek and Donkey get to the castle where Fiona is being held, rescue her and escape from the dragon. However, the dragon is female and develops a crush on Donkey. This will be important later in the story.

The way back to Farquaad’s castle will take three days and nights. And Fiona has a secret — she refuses to let anyone see her at night because of a curse. At night, Fiona turns into an ogress and thinks she’s ugly and unlovable. She wants to marry and experience “True love’s first kiss” to break the curse. Fiona also is adept at martial arts, doing the “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” thing to take out Monsieur Robin Hood and his Merry Men. Gradually, over time, Fiona and Shrek come to like each other, but there’s a horrible misunderstanding, and Fiona chooses Lord Farquaad. Meanwhile, Donkey has learned Fiona’s secret. Shrek also rejects Donkey, mostly due to the same misunderstanding. Donkey, though, goes to confront Shrek and the two make-up and become friends again. Donkey then sets Shrek straight, and the two are flown to Lord Farquaad’s castle to stop the wedding. Shrek interrupts the wedding, Fiona chooses Shrek and kisses him, and the curse is broken — revealing her true form to be that of  an ogress. Shrek and Fiona drive off in an onion-shaped carriage.

Overall, Shrek is an excellent film. It’s very funny, it’s got a good story, and the “moral” of being true to yourself and learning to love who you really are is good for children, teens, and adults. I recommend it.

Recommendation:  See it!
Rating:  4 out of  5 Stars
Next Film:  Shrek 2

Austin Powers in Goldmember

  • Title: Austin Powers in Goldmember
  • Director: Jay Roach
  • Date: 2002
  • Studio: New Line (et al)
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Cast: Mike Myers, Beyoncé Knowles, Michael Caine, Michael York, Seth Green, Robert Wagner, Verne Troyer, Fred Savage
  • Format: Widescreen, Color
  • DVD Format: NTSC, R1

“All right, Goldmember. Don’t play the laughing boy! There are only two things I can’t stand in this world: People who are intolerant of other people’s cultures… and the Dutch!” — Sir Nigel Powers

Goldmember begins with four or five title sequences (depending on how one counts them) and breaks the fourth wall twice. This is an excellent example of the problem with this film. Whereas the first two Austin Powers films had a strong plot, this film feels like a series of barely connected short skits, sketches, and ideas instead of a film.

Nominally, the film is parodying many purely 1970s types of films — roller skating films, trucker films, disco films, prison films, even the 1960s Bond film Goldfinger is referenced. Dr. Evil, who now has his evil headquarters behind the Hollywood sign and is running a talent agency, is captured at the beginning of the film. However, the plot to kidnap Austin’s father, Nigel Powers, played by Michael Caine goes on. Austin travels to the 1970s in an outrageous pimpmobile (another 70s reference), picks-up Foxxy Cleopatra (Beyoncé) but fails to rescue Nigel. From there it’s a bit of a mess. Fat Bastard returns as a Sumo wrestler. Scott Evil finally gives in and becomes evil – taking Mini Me’s place at Dr. Evil’s side (who has now escaped prison). Mini Me then defects to British Intelligence and becomes Mini Austin. Eventually, during the climax, Nigel reveals that Dr. Evil is actually Austin’s brother and everyone is happy except the now totally evil and quite mad Scott Evil.

One of the funniest vignettes of the film is Michael Caine (again, as Austin’s father, Nigel) and Austin disguising what they are saying by speaking in English English or Cockney Rhyming slang — with subtitles. It’s hilarious! Now, Cockney Rhyming slang is real – it’s an actual version of English, developed in London’s East End by criminals and the lower class so police (Bobbys) and upper-class Englishmen wouldn’t understand what they were saying (much like any slang or argot). The idea is that the phrase not only rhymes with itself but it rhymes with the word the slang phrase replaces (eg “trouble and strife” means wife or “apples and pears” means stairs). As the slang’s been around since Victorian times, often the second half of the phrase is left off (e.g. just “trouble” to mean “wife”). Needless to say, it’s a bit confusing — and yes, it’s spoken as fast as Caine and Myers do in the film, if not faster. (I once heard a very frustrated Neil Gaiman break into Cockney Rhyming slang at an SF convention when trying to out-talk Harlan Ellison. Neil won.) However, that one scene I always end up rewinding and watching two or three times – every time I watch the film because it’s brilliant.

Another cute bit occurs in Tokyo when Austin, Nigel, and Foxxy are escaping and their car hits a Japanese monster-movie paper-mache monster and starts pushing it down the street. The crowds start running away and one yells, “Godzilla!” – then Masi Oka appears and says, “It looks like Godzilla, but due to international copyright law – it isn’t!” Then both run away. That bit was brilliant.

And Michael Caine is perfect to play Nigel Powers, especially as the character of Austin, with his wavy reddish hair and glasses come from Caine’s look in films like The Ipcress File. And Caine and Myers have great chemistry. But there isn’t enough of Caine, and overall the film misses the boat a bit. I would have much, much preferred a film about Austin and his father’s relationship – even Austin’s daddy issues (something briefly mentioned by Dr. Evil in the first film) as compared to the relationship between Dr. Evil and Scott and Mini Me. The last scene is quite nice but a bit rushed. I could have done without all the pull-backs revealing our characters watching a movie of Austin in “Austinpussy” – complete with A-list Hollywood cast, and more actual story. The first two films had a story – this film had sketches.

There is a lot of music in the film, as always with the Austin Powers films, but no psychedelic scene breaks. Both Austin and Dr. Evil get to perform musical numbers though. As does Foxxy, though hers is part of her cover at Goldmember’s club. However, whereas the music in the first two films was the original songs (“Secret Agent Man”, “Incense and Peppermints”, etc) in this film music is actually parodied (“What’s it all about, Algie?” becomes “What’s it all about, Austin?” for example). Using original music worked better.

And, whereas the first two films had us sympathetic with Austin – but at times with Dr. Evil, Scott, Number Two, and even Fat Bastard — this film often seems out-and-out cruel. Goldmember has no redeeming values at all, and the peeling skin is way over the top. Fat Bastard does actually get another sympathetic scene (he is perfect as a Sumo wrestler) and at the very end is shown to have lost over 100 pounds from the Jerald Subway diet, but still… More plot and more character, and less brief sketches going nowhere would have helped the film immensely.

So why did I buy it? Well, I got the first two films in a two-pack, two films for $10.00, which is five dollars each, so I couldn’t pass it up. And I kept seeing Goldmember at bargain shelves for $5.00 and finally bought a copy, figuring, if nothing else, the little that Michael Caine is in this film makes it worth five bucks. I also really liked the “Singin’ in the Rain” parody that’s one of the five opening credit sequences – and, as I’ve said, the bit on English English.

Recommendation: See it or not, depends on how much you like Austin Powers.
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Next Film: Back to the Future

Austin Powers The Spy Who Shagged Me

  • Title: Austin Powers The Spy Who Shagged Me
  • Director: Jay Roach
  • Date: 1999
  • Studio: New Line (et al)
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Format: Color, Widescreen
  • DVD Formats: NTSC, R1
  • Cast: Mike Myers, Heather Graham, Michael York, Robert Wagner, Rob Lowe, Seth Green, Verne Troyer

“You know what’s remarkable? How much the English countryside looks in no way like Southern California.” — Austin Powers (as he and Felicity escape in her car to the “English Countryside” which is obviously Southern California).

Not as good as the first Austin Powers film, The Spy Who Shagged Me still delivers a good story. When the film came out I was actually surprised that they got away with that particular title, considering what “shag” is British slang for — and that it’s actually quite rude. I also wondered if the title was changed in the UK. However, the title is also a parody of the Roger Moore Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me.

The film opens with a crawl, also spoken, that’s a parody of Star Wars. Star Wars will again be referenced later in the movie. Then we have what is, I think, the biggest mistake in terms of story-telling of the film — Vanessa (Elizabeth Hurley) turns out to be a Fembot, who tries to kill Austin and then blows up. This leaves Austin single again, but it also ruins the romantic sub-plot of the first film, and any chance of having a pair of married spies, instead of horny, randy super-spies. In short, I really missed Vanessa in this film.

Dr. Evil returns in 1999, develops a time machine in his secret lair at Starbucks HQ in Seattle, and goes back in time to steal Austin’s mojo from his frozen body at the Ministry of Defense with the help of Fat Bastard (also played by Myers). Austin follows in a time-traveling VW Bug convertible and meets Felicity Shagwell, CIA agent, at a club where she stops one of Dr. Evil’s assassins who is out to kill Austin. Leaving the club they are attacked by another assassin, Mustafa (Will Farrell) from the first film, who also fails.

Felicity is a feminine Austin, with a “woman” symbol necklace and who’s wearing a crushed velvet outfit when they meet. She’s American, and works for the CIA, but is still very much the swinging spy. She even admits she became a spy because of her admiration for Austin.

The film then slows down quite a bit, as Austin begins to fall for Felicity, but does nothing because of his missing mojo. There’s a long sequence of Austin being the fashion photographer and taking pictures of Felicity and their falling for each other, but being unable to act on their feelings. Felicity then, well, um, “shags” Fat Bastard, to get close enough to plant a homing beacon on him. In a round about way, this leads to Austin and Felicity finding Dr. Evil’s hidden island volcano liar. Felicity and Austin go there, but eventually, end up on the moon. Because this time around Dr. Evil’s plan is to use a giant laser on the moon to destroy cities on Earth, thus making the moon a “Death Star” (and a string of references to Star Wars, and the Bond film, Moonraker). Scott Evil also travels back in time and pokes fun at his father who keeps making future cultural references that no one around him gets.

And Dr. Evil and Frau Farbissia end up having an affair.

A little extra time travel is used in the climax on the moon. But overall, the plot is a bit overly complicated and too many references are thrown in that don’t really add to the film. There are some verbal wordplay and innuendo, but somehow the second helping of Austin Powers just seems like the same old thing. I missed Mimi Rogers and Elizabeth Hurley very much, and Heather Graham seemed like a poor substitute (not really the actress’s fault). I wasn’t overly impressed with Mini-Me who seemed a cruel joke played out far too long, and the plot of this film seems to meander a bit too much.

However, there were points that worked. Mike Myers still does a very sympathetic Austin. Michael York does a brilliant job as Basil Exposition. In the end, Myers, as Fat Bastard, delivers an excellent, surprisingly sympathetic soliloquy about the pains of his condition. Heather Graham isn’t awful, she just isn’t Elizabeth Hurley and I found her character a bit annoying.

The filming and color of the 1960s were great also. And the opening sequence (under the credits) was brilliant. I especially liked the parody of synchronized swimming films. The psychedelic scene breaks (Laugh-In style) are still present. Oh, and not to be forgotten – the music in this film is also excellent and I would really love a soundtrack.

Remember to watch the credits all the way through to see a couple of deleted scenes that are actually quite, quite fun.

Recommendation:  See It!  But not as much of  a classic comedy/parody as the first film.
Rating: 4 out of  5 Stars
Next Film:  Austin Powers in Goldmember

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