Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery follows the fashion photographer/secret agent Austin Powers, as he follows his nemesis Dr. Evil into the distant future of 1997 to bring him down, but he finds himself a fish out of water. Released in 1997, Austin Powers made over $65 million worldwide, rendering it a commercial success, and its critical reception was good too, currently sitting at 70% on Rotten Tomatoes. However, what did I think of Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery?
First things first, this film is a clear parody of the original James Bond films, particularly Goldfinger, and I didn’t mind that at all. The goofy and cheesy deaths of the businessmen at the very beginning had me cracking up because recently I’ve been watching quite a lot of Bond, and I love the way that some aspects of Bond were brought out in Austin Powers himself. Also carried over from the 007 films is the wacky and over-the-top villains, here shown as Dr. Evil, played by Mike Myers, who also plays Powers. Not to go into too much detail, Dr. Evil’s plot was very typical of a 60’s or 70’s Bond film, making this parody of the franchise very effective, and the resemblance to these films was one of my favourite things about Austin Powers. And this is before mentioning Basil Exposition, a clear parody of Q that had me cracking up because it really hit the nail on the head with its interpretation.
Arguably what I enjoyed most was the beginning of the film; especially the first 5 minutes or so, where Austin is well and truly in his comfort zone in the 1960’s. The vibe was simply excellent and it really got me excited for the film, and the title card’s font, and the music in the background, had me hooked. The jokes come in thick and fast at the beginning, but my favourite has to be the completely unexpected marching band gag, which was just so random that it made me chuckle. The humour in Austin Powers is quite spontaneous, especially the 60’s Batman-esque clips between scenes featuring Austin in a variety of hilarious positions. The humour was mostly on target, and the film definitely passed the 6-laugh test for a comedy, so if you’re looking to laugh, Austin Powers is a good place to start.
The standout performer in Austin Powers is undoubtedly Mike Myers, who plays not only the eponymous British spy, but also his arch-nemesis Dr. Evil. Although at times a little too animated for my liking, if it wasn’t for Myers the film would’ve fallen into the category of mediocrity, but thanks to his brilliant performance, expert comedic timing and simply genius physical comedy, he brings Austin Powers up several notches in my opinion.
Unfortunately, this film does have several pitfalls. I don’t know who it’s down to, but there were a few occasions where gags went on for far too long, and what was originally refreshing and funny became stale very fast, which I’ve also noticed with Family Guy in recent years. The main offender was the gag towards the beginning where Austin is urinating, and interrupting the speech system by continuing to do so. This was actually quite funny the first two or three times, but the gag ended up spanning a good couple of minutes, meaning it was very boring to sit through and completely detracted from the joke that had already been made.
This is the first time I’ve ever seen Austin Powers, so maybe I’m more accustomed to Transformers-esque special effects, but I can’t help but think that the film has aged terribly. This may seem like a bit of a tangent, but last weekend I was watching Moonraker with my family when I mentioned the gross misogyny of the James Bond franchise at that time, and how they could never get away with that now. However, this film seems to be in very poor taste regarding women, and they are only ever used to allow Austin to do something brave or to seduce them, which shows the film’s age and tastelessness quite substantially.
If you’ve read any of my other reviews, you’ll know how much of a fan I am of a good plot. This film, quite frankly, lacks that. Sure, its focus really isn’t a deep and meaningful plot with a sprinkling of character development, but it would’ve been nice if these jokes were held together with a stronger story than just bad guy tries to take over the world, good guy stops him, but since this is a comedy, I’ll let it slip a bit.
Overall, I’d say that I was a bit disappointed by Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. The jokes were a bit all over the place and downright tasteless at times, the plot was negligible and it’s incredibly dated, but a strong performance from Mike Myers saves Austin Powers from the clutches of mediocrity.
I give Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery 7 out of 10.
Have you seen Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery? What did you think? As always, be sure to leave a comment and check us out on these sites:
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