Austin Powers

Movie Review By Anthony Leong © Copyright 1997

Items belonging to Danger Powers.
No, my first name is Austin. Danger... is my middle name.
Elizabeth Hurley and Mike Myers

There have been many spy movie spoofs in recent years, from the lame Leslie Nielson vehicle "Spy Hard", to last year's Deep Space Nine holodeck-malfunction episode "Our Man Bashir", and this year's Simpsons season-opener, where Homer had unwittingly assisted an evil madman in conquering the free world. However, "Austin Powers", the new Mike Myers comedy, beats them all. All the cultural constructs, clichés and contrivances of spy films (such as the James Bond Series, "Our Man Flint", and those godawful Dean Martin cinematic excesses) and the Sixties are mercilessly skewered by Myers.

The story begins in 1967. While the notorious Dr. Evil (Mike Myers), who is so evil that it is pronounced E-VILLE, is scheming a diabolical plan to rule the world, Austin 'Danger' Powers (Mike Myers) is prancing about London in blue velvet, being mobbed by hundreds of women who find him irresistible. Austin is warned by his boss (Michael York in a moptop) at headquarters that Dr. Evil is out to kill him. Of course, Austin foils the dastardly scheme and Dr. Evil escapes in a spaceship, cryogenically frozen, only to return when Austin is no longer around. And so Austin undergoes cryogenic freezing also, to be revived when Dr. Evil returns.

How dare you pass wind before me!
I'm sorry dear... I didn't know it was your turn!
Shag it, baby!

The story then jumps to 1997, when Dr. Evil's spaceship returns to Earth and Austin is unthawed. Austin is given a new partner (Elizabeth Hurley) and together they set off in Austin's Technicolor jumbo jet to Las Vegas to thwart Dr. Evil's return. Along the way, Austin crosses paths with Dr. Evil's underlings Number Two (Robert Wagner with an eyepatch), evil seductress Alotta Fagina, and an Oddjob-like henchman that throws his shoe at his victim, as well as Sixties singing sensation Burt Bacharach.

Good night, Mr. Powers. Welcome to the Nineties. You're going to be a very lonely man.
Shags like a minx!

Most of the laughs in this movie come from the numerous visual gags and the fish-out-of-water situation that both Dr. Evil and Austin Powers find themselves in. Dr. Evil is constantly being corrected by Number Two for the obsolescence of his schemes, such as destroying the ozone layer or asking for only a mere one million dollars ransom from the United Nations. Austin Powers meanwhile, must get used to the fact that the days of free sex with multiple partners and frilly shirts are over and that most of the people he hung out with are now dead (Jerry Garcia, Jimi Hendrix, etc.). There are a couple of lame sequences that bring the movie to a grinding halt (such as an overly long 'evacuation' gag and Dr. Evil and his son going to counseling), but overall, you should come out of the movie with a smile.

Liberace was gay? I didn't even see it coming. I mean, all the girls loved him.

From the opening credit sequence which has the denizens of London spontaneously breaking into dance, Mike Myers and director Jay Roach have captured the cheesiness of the Sixties perfectly. Top marks for production design that captures the outrageous color schemes and outfits of the era and the great camera work which is judiciously used to deliver the visceral gags. The movie even has transition sequences of Austin prancing about with his band (hard to describe on paper... watch the video for "New Pollution" by Beck for a better idea).

"Austin Powers" is a lot of shaggin' fun. Don't miss it!

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