Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)

Mike Myers as Austin Powers in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

Groovy Movie Baby

Parodying spy movies has never really gone well, there was Leslie Nielsen as Dick Steele in the less than decent "Spy Hard" and even Peter Sellers in the slightly better 1967 version of "Casino Royale". You could even say the James Bond series during the 80's were themselves parodies but no one has really come close to effectively spoofing the spy movie genre. That is until Mike Myers decided to come up with "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery" a glorious parody of not only James Bond movies but many others too as it delivers a non stop string of laughs. It's simplistic in its endeavours trying to gain laughs via the numerous references to other movies and the juvenile humour rather than a plot but even so it is hugely entertaining and surprisingly captivating.

30 years after having been cryogenically frozen, British super spy Austin 'Danger' Powers (Mike Myers) is brought out of his recumbent state when his arch nemesis Dr. Evil (Mike Myers) returns to hold the world to ransom. With the aid of sexy agent Miss Vanessa Kensington (Elizabeth Hurley - Bedazzled) they head of to Las Vegas, Nevada to stop Dr. Evil and his motley crew of henchmen in their tracks.

Mike Myers as Dr. Evil in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

"Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery" for some will be stupidly amusing thanks to the tendency for juvenile japes but will be hilarious for those who can also pick up on the various in jokes, the references to other movies and the general piss taking when it comes to the often stupidity of the spy genre. It's the sort of movie that appeals both to adolescent boys and those who haven't grown up, with a plethora of jokes about bodily functions, penis enlargements and boobs. This side of the movie is very simplistic often silly but wonderfully hilarious such as the scene where a naked Austin Powers walks around the room whilst Miss Kensington unwittingly covers up his private parts with a variety of objects often with a sense of sexual innuendo as she takes a bite of a well placed sausage. It makes you laugh just as the scene where a recently defrosted Austin has a never ending pee.

But there is another level to the comedy, that of the often inspired parodying of spy movies and a lot of the jokes are obviously based around James Bond. Nothing seems sacred when it comes to the jokes and a particular scene where Dr. Evils son highlights the stupidity of not just shooting Austin rather than putting him in some easy to escape trap is plainly hilarious. As is the naming of several characters such as Dr. Evil's chief henchman No. 2 and his personal secretary Alotta Fagina.

Although for the most the comedy is funny often inspired sometimes it goes on far too long, with jokes either becoming repetitive or just carried on beyond the point where they are funny, such as the scene featuring Austin trying to claim that as Swedish Penis enlarger was not his bag baby. It just feels at times that Myers never knows when to stop, when a joke has hit its peak or when a different style of humour would work. That is actually one of the issues with "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery" at times the jokes feel a little one sided revelling in the juvenile humour of bodily functions where a play on words would have been a welcome change.

There is also a sense that Myers along with the other writers basically tried to include so much humour that often some of it is misplaced. This makes the movie at times a little uneven and falls into the occasional lull where the jokes just don't work. It's at this point you would traditionally have an engaging storyline to pick up the slack but there is a real lack of plot. This is not so much a criticism as "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery" is not a movie about a storyline, but a comedy of connected scenes, but a little more plot would have actually stopped the pace dropping so dramatically when the humour starts to wane.

"Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery" is very much Mike Myers movie, he wrote it and stars in it in two roles that of British spy Austin Powers as well as his nemesis Dr. Evil. Myers revels in the chance to play both the good guy and bad, camping up the characters into wonderful parodies, with Austin Powers feeling inspired obviously by James Bond but also Michael Caine's Harry Palmer, whilst Dr Evil is a superb parody of Donald Pleasance's Blofield from "You Only Live Twice". He certainly seems to have fun and delivers one of the funniest British accents to hit the big screen in year as well as creating a plethora of catch phrases such as "Do You Find Me Horny" and "Groovy Baby".

The supporting cast do just as well with Robert Wagner doing a marvellous turn as Dr. Evil's chief henchman No. 2 and Seth Green is a riot as Dr. Evil's rebellious son Scott. Plus there is Michael York as Basil Exposition and the delightful Fabiana Udenio as Alotta Fagina. The only real negative about the performances is that of Liz Hurley as Vanessa Kensington, it's not a terrible performance but at times lacks the confidence when it comes to delivering lines or the comic timing which the other actors possess.

What this all boils down to is that "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery" is a genuinely funny movie especially if you are partial to some juvenile japes and can pick up on the various in jokes as well as references to other movies. It's by no means a great movie and at times the jokes are over done to the point of no longer being funny but for the most it is enjoyable and features Mike Myers at his best.