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Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)

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Score: 7/10

Genre: Comedy and Spy Running Time: 1 hr. 29 min.

Release Date: May 2nd, 1997 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Jay Roach Actors: Mike Myers, Elizabeth Hurley, Michael York, Mimi Rogers, Robert Wagner, Seth Green, Fabiana Udenio, Mindy Sterling, Charles Napier, Will Ferrell

I

n 1967, somewhere outside Las Vegas, Dr. Evil (Mike Myers) meets with his gang of assassins to discuss why no one is capable of ridding the world if his nemesis, Britain’s top secret agent Austin Powers (also Mike Myers), who is notoriously irresistible to women and deadly to enemies. After executing several of his less impressive minions, Dr. Evil instructs Mustafa (Will Ferrell) and Frau Farbissina (Mindy Sterling) to finish the job once and for all. Later, at a swingin’ nightclub, Austin and his partner Mrs. Kensington (Mimi Rogers) witness Dr. Evil cryogenically freezing himself then launching into space, set to return at a time when greed and corruption again rule supreme.

In 1997, Dr. Evil’s Big Boy spacecraft finally re-enters Earth’s atmosphere, prompting the U.S. government to contact British Intelligence leader Basil Exposition (Michael York), who reveals that Austin Powers was also cryogenically frozen at the Ministry of Defense for just this sort of catastrophe. Mrs. Kensington’s daughter, the sensible Vanessa (Elizabeth Hurley), is tasked with acclimatizing the superspy to the drastically different ’90s. As Dr. Evil amasses a new horde of mercenaries, attempts to bond with his son (Seth Green), and plots to hijack some nuclear weapons to hold the world ransom (for a hefty $100 million), Powers tests his skills by trying to seduce his handler and save the day – in that order.

The comedy spans from groovy dance numbers to slapstick to sexual innuendo to bathroom humor – and oftentimes excellent combinations of all of them. And, of course, the references to James Bond are numerous – including the names of Number Two (Robert Wagner), Random Task (Joe Son), and Alotta Fagina (Fabiana Udenio); the ladies’ man vibe; the gadgets (including android Fembots); the music; and the world domination plots devised by physically scarred madmen. Wild costumes, creative nudity gimmicks, and corny catchphrases are also quite effective.

A few stalling subplots slow down the pace of what is otherwise a routinely amusing parody full of hysterical nods to 007 and every other iteration of adventurous agents of espionage (including Emma Peel and Harry Palmer). Even the spoofing of action scenes, or overly elaborate and slow torture devices, or snappy demise-following one-liners generally hit the mark. Though “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery” plays like a “Saturday Night Live” skit dragged out to feature length, the jokes are just funny enough to warrant the runtime, while also maintaining a modern levity that far surpasses the likes of the 1967 “Casino Royale” and the Derek Flint send-ups.

– Mike Massie

 

 



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