72. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery


Movie: Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

Release Date: May 2, 1997

Director: Jay Roach

Starring: Mike Meyers, Elizabeth Hurley, Michael York, Mimi Rogers, Robert Wagner, Mindy Sterling, Seth Green.

Tag Lines: “If he were any cooler, he’d still be frozen, baby!”

“Frozen in the 60’s… thawing spring ’97, baby!”

“Debonair. Defiant. Defrosted.”

Relevance: I grew up in the 1970’s and 1980’s and I always seemed to be watching a new James Bond movie every month. My family was a huge fan of those movies and through osmosis, so was I. I loved the intrigue, action, romance and the gadgets, but what I loved most about the movies was the character. Bond. James Bond. He was the coolest, hippest, most debonair spy to ever walk the planet. No matter if it was Sean Connery, David Niven, George Lazenby, Roger Moore or Timothy Dalton, I loved his smooth, humorous ways of spoiling the crime and catching the crook. I also really loved the villains. They were fun, over-the-top characters you absolutely loved to hate. Even though none of the James Bond films made my list of most influential movies of all time, the character was a definite influence on my young impressionable mind.

Even as I grew older and James Bond changed faces yet again in the likes of Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig, my admiration for the genre never waned. I am still always up for a good spy movie with a crazy bad guy to boot. Even more so when Madonna gets involved. ‘Die Another Day’ was a Bond film that she both contributed a theme song to (a top ten Billboard hit I might add) and cameoed as Verity, a lesbian fencing instructor. It was the perfect match. Both Madonna and the James Bond character have reinvented themselves for decades and still made news and topped the box office.

Despite my love for James Bond, ‘Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery,’ billed as a parody of the James Bond franchise, flew way under my radar. I was married (to a woman) at the time and had just become a new dad when the film was released. My mind was elsewhere to say the least. I of course knew of the character as I worked for a movie and music store and we were selling posters by the handfuls. “Shall we shag now or shag later” was heard incessantly by co-workers, customers and friends alike. I usually rolled my eyes and moved on. I was both sleep deprived and, as many friends have since told me, my humor was sucked out of my body during a period in my life from 1995 through 1998. Oddly enough, those were the years I was married to a woman. So ‘Austin Powers’ went relatively unnoticed in my life.

In 1998, after waking up from my humor coma, or to put it in more realistic terms, coming out of the closet as gay, I finally watched ‘Austin Powers’ that summer via rental. I did not have an easy time “coming out,” as I have mentioned many times already on this blog, so most of my time was spent working, spending time with my son and watching movies. ‘Austin Powers’ was one of those movies.

It was probably the perfect movie at the perfect time for me. I needed to laugh and laugh I most certainly did. I absolutely loved the spoof of James Bond, but more importantly I loved the silliness, gags and those perfect over-the-top performances. Mike Myers was brilliant, but so were the crazy ensemble assembled to dance around him. And boy did they dance! The film immediately became one of my favorite films to watch over and over again and it never failed to make me laugh uncontrollably.

I was a little late on the ‘Austin Powers’ bandwagon, but that didn’t matter, because a sequel was on its way. ‘Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me’ was released in June of 1999. This time there was a Madonna song and video attached to it. Even if I hadn’t fallen in love with the original, I was sure to be a fan of the sequel now. ‘Beautiful Stranger’ was a top twenty hit on the Billboard charts and it, especially the Calderone Club Mix, was my jam of that summer. For some reason I did not see that while it was in the theater either, but I owned the two soundtracks and rented it as soon as I could. A similar situation happened in 2002 with ‘Austin Powers in Goldmember.’ I did not see it in theaters but rented it and loved it just as much as the the other two films. Although polar opposites and for completely different reasons, Austin Powers like James Bond, became a character that I loved.

I bought all three Austin Powers movies on DVD and have loved all three of them for years. Each of them have sparked hours of laughter not only for me but for my son and friends as well. The movies have been quoted over and over again and to this day there isn’t a week that goes by without an Austin Powers reference. Whether it was yelling “SCOOOOTTTT” to a co-worker or holding a pinky to my lips a la Doctor Evil, the influence cannot be denied. The second movie has a Madonna song and Mini-Me, the third movie has the greatest scene ever with Nathan Lane, but there is nothing like the original. Because of that, ‘Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery,’ the one that introduced, albeit a little late, Mr. Austin Danger Powers to me, stakes its claim in my top one hundred films of all time. Groovy, baby!

Today’s Thoughts: “Name? Austin Danger Powers. Sex? Yes please!”

‘Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery’ will never not make me laugh. I can’t help it. I simply return to being a ten year old boy again, become giddy and laugh at every juvenile innuendo in the film. It’s so silly, but so, so funny.

What makes the film so funny and endearing is the glorious performances by its amazing cast. Mike Meyers, Elizabeth Hurley, Michael York, Mimi Rogers, Robert Wagner, Mindy Sterling and Seth Green, directed by Jay Roach, are hysterically perfect. There are so many great moments in the film, it is difficult to pick one. Even Will Farrell, a man that I cannot stomach a lot in one sitting, has a really funny moment that always makes me chuckle. As much as I love the character of Austin Powers, I really think the performance par excellence is that of Mike Myers as Dr. Evil. It is such a great character and he makes me laugh more than any other character.

‘Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery’ is a silly spoof but one that will no doubt become a classic one day. It is smart, knows both its source material and audience very well and remains remarkably funny no matter how many times one sees it. If you do not at least smile once while you watch the movie, check your pulse, you’re dead.

Ways to Watch: HBO Max, YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, Amazon Prime, DVD Availability.


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