Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery stars Mike Myers as the titular character attempting to foil Dr. Evil’s (also Mike Myers) nefarious plot to hold the Earth hostage for one-hundred billion dollars by drilling down to the centre of the Earth with a large, penis shaped drill. The premise of the film is that Austin Powers and Dr. Evil were both frozen during the 1960s to wake up in the present day (Powers to stop Evil who has frozen himself), many of the jokes in the film are played on the fact that both Powers and Evil are from the 60s, and times have changed.
The film plays itself as a crude, ridiculous parody to the James Bond franchise and as such Myers’ Powers is from 1960s England and is seen wearing ridiculous clothes, has terrible teeth and uses slang from the time he knows best such as ‘groovy’ and ‘baby’. The jokes of how out of place Powers and Evil are come thick and fast but luckily each one is placed very well and as such each one is funny, my personal favourite comes when Dr. Evil is addressing the U.N (which is hilariously full of stupid stereotypes), in which he says that he will stop his nefarious plans if they pay him ‘one million dollars!’, quickly he is told that one million dollars is not that much anymore so he changes his demand to ‘one-hundred billion dollars!’ of which the scene ends with around a minute of laughter from Dr. Evil and his evil associates.
Every now and then, the film will cut to Austin Powers dancing around some women on a fantastically cheap looking set with psychedelic music and art going around in the background. Each one of these cut-away scenes took me completely by surprise and each one was hilarious (and custom designed for advert breaks on the TV to boot!).
Humour is what this film is all about, you definitely should not watch the film when you are in a serious film-watching mood but it is perfect when you just want something stupid to watch that is about as unsophisticated as they come. The script (penned by Myers) is full of innuendo, ridiculous scenes and actually more wit than you’d expect – sure, it’s crude and many people may find some of it offensive but it is very funny from start to finish backed by mostly great performances all round.
Besides Myers’ fantastically stupid performances of Austin Powers and Dr. Evil are Seth Green (Dr. Evil’s genetically engineered son Scott Evil) who plays a frustrated son who simply doesn’t understand his dad’s fashion of super-villainy, Michael York plays Basil Exposition, Powers’ boss, Elizabeth Hurley provides the love interest of the film and a modern counterpoint for Powers to play off against, Mimi Rogers plays Mrs. Kensington (one of Austin’s love interests and partner in spying from the 1960s), Robert Wagner plays Number Two, Dr. Evil’s right-hand man, Fabiana Udenio plays Alotta Fagina (taking all of her name cues from Pussy Galore of James Bond fame), Mindy Sterling plays Frau Farbissina, one of Dr. Evil’s evil league along with Paul Dillon’s Patty O’Brien and Will Ferrell’s Mustafa.
The acting from most of the cast is perfect for their respective roles, but Elizabeth Hurley’s Vanessa Kensington comes off too stale and at times slightly annoying. The real standouts though are Mike Myers as both Powers and Evil and Will Ferrell as Mustafa simply for his one speaking scene – fans of the film will know what I am talking about.
The film is completely mad cap and over the top in pretty much every regard but it is very, very funny and retains it throughout the whole run time of 90 minutes. Some people will be put off by the crude humour of the film; a major part of the acting isn’t too good either, not bad, but not good either. The formula and style of humour of this film has been copied (and at times) outclassed by some of its peers since, but this is a good parody that is only let down by one particularly weak performance and a plot that at times feels a little too sketchy in its workings and towards the end of the film some of the recurring jokes come off as tad annoying, but hey, I’ve never been one for catchphrases.
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery could have easily been just a crude film that was just too stupid, but it’s very funny script and sometimes genuinely smart humour backed up by some fantastically charismatic lead performances move the film further than that; it’s still crude – perhaps too crude for some – but it is crude at its hilarious best.
Mike Myers has crafted one ‘groovy’ comedy that can be very occasionally annoying and let down by one particularly weak performance.