A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

December 10, 2010

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

Michael Meyers is a funny guy. I’m not disputing that. And clearly there was enough mad genius in this movie to spawn a franchise, so I’ll not deny that there’s a charm to the Austin Powers movies. Austin Powers as a character, however, has always somewhat irritated me. It’s possible that this is intentional since part of the whole joke of the first movie is that this rude hairy troll of a man is for some reason irresistible to women (and fembots.) The fact remains, however, that I enjoy the bits with Meyers’ other character in this film, Dr. Evil, a lot more than those with Austin.

As a whole, however, this movie is great fun. It’s a very clear spoof of the James Bond franchise, with some direct references to Goldfinger especially, but it adds a lot more than that to the mix to create something strange and new. On the James Bond side you have Dr. Evil himself with his cat – clearly a reference to classic Bond villain Ernst Blofeld. There’s the bowler wearing shoe throwing henchman Random Task. There’s the sultry secretary Alotta Fagina.

There are also a few bits in the movie that feel like references to other films but might not be deliberate. When Basil Exposition (played by Michael York) first appears during the sixties at the start of the film his long blond hair is exactly like the hair York sported when playing Logan in Logan’s Run. Coincidence? Then there’s the way Mike dazedly bumbles about after Austin has been defrosted in the nineties – it is quite reminiscent of Woody Allen’s performance when his character in Sleeper is first defrosted, but I don’t know if that was a conscious choice. The artificial psychedelic feel of the start of the movie is such a pitch-perfect recreation of movies from the What’s Up Pussycat era that I am always slightly surprised that Tom Jones isn’t somehow in this movie.

If this movie had been an Abrahams and Zucker film that probably would have been it. (there are a few jokes in the movie that have a distinctly Abrakans and Zucker feel to them, such as the screaming man that Austin rolls over with a steamroller.) But this is a different kind of spoof.

For one thing there was apparently a very strong improv feel to the making of the movie. It’s most apparent in the interactions of Dr. Evil and his son Scott Evil (played with a sullen charm by my favorite werewolf Seth Green.) The two play off of each other in a light-hearted way that makes me with there were out-takes on the DVD. Indeed it feels like most of the scenes with Dr. Evil in his lair were done as improvisational exercises, it’s just the vibe they have. They’re also some of the most self-aware and hilarious scenes in the movie. When Scott asks his father directly why he doesn’t just get a gun and shoot Austin to death after capturing him and Dr. Evil explains how he thinks it a much better plan to put Powers in an easily escaped and overly complex device and then refuse to watch to make sure Austin doesn’t escape… well that’s probably the best scene in the movie.

There’s also a sort of sentimental feel to parts of the movie that I really enjoy. The scenes of Austin coming to grips with the new time period he finds himself in and how out of place he is are actually kind of touching. I love watching him there being flabbergasted by things like the lunar landing and the fall of the Berlin wall. As I have often said: we do live in the future now. (Because the future is where you and I will spend the rest of our lives. In the future.)

Mostly though this is a Mike Meyers vehicle which allows him to play two different roles (something he had already done hilariously in So I Married and Axe Murderer.) I might not enjoy some of Austin’s capering (he makes me neither horny nor randy) I can’t deny that there are a lot of fantastic gags in this movie and bits that still make me laugh no matter how many times I watch them. I look forward to Spy Who Shagged Me tomorrow night, since I’ve never actually seen that movie all the way through from beginning to end.

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December 10, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , ,

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