Every once in a while, I’ll go and watch a movie that I liked when I was younger just to see how well that movie has held up. Most of the time, the movies hold up rather well. However, this time it was a bit of a mixed bag. The only Austin Powers movie I had seen previously was Austin Powers in Goldmember, so I expected something similar. I remembered enjoying and laughing at that movie, so why wouldn't I love this one? While I would not say that the movie is in any way bad, I would say that either I have matured to the point where I don't find most of the jokes funny, the movie is targeted towards younger audiences or people with a certain sense of humor, or the movie hasn't aged that well. Still, there are good things to talk about, so let's dive in and discuss Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.
In 1967, Austin Powers is a British secret agent who thwarts his nemesis, Dr. Evil, in his attempt to kill Powers. After this attempt on Powers’s life, Dr. Evil cryogenically freezes himself so that he might return sometime in the future to resume his evil schemes. Powers volunteers to have the same thing done to him so that he might be ready to combat Dr. Evil whenever he chooses to reemerge. When Dr. Evil does finally make himself known, the year is 1997 and times have changed, ensuring that Austin Powers has much to learn about society during his mission to stop Dr. Evil’s plan. Expect lots of shenanigans and strange occurrences on this adventure, but that’s all in a day’s work for Austin Powers.
Actors/Actresses and their Performances
While there a few actors in this movie that have strong performances, there is only one who completely steals the show: Mike Myers. He is the person who came up with the idea for the character of Austin Powers as an homage to the British films, music, and comedy that Myers’s father introduced him to in the 1960s and 1970s. Myers’s also plays Dr. Evil, so he simultaneously plays both the hero and the villain in the movie. He succeeds in both roles, playing both a spoof of James Bond and a spoof of a James Bond villain. Both roles have a decent amount of humor, but there's quite a bit of material with these characters that would not have worked at all had Mike Myers not fully understanding exactly what these characters were supposed to be. Because he gets to play both characters, this allows him to ensure that the characters play off each other perfectly, and each character's own humor is unique to them and no one else.
Since the movie is largely a parody or spoof of a spy movie, most of the camera work serves to emphasize this. The scenery also serves this roll with the villain's lair looking like a stereotypical underground metallic structure that is home to whichever big-time evildoer exists in the movie’s universe. Austin Powers is stereotypically British, all the way down to the infamous “bad-teeth”. Dr. Evil is also obviously an over-the-top stereotype of a Bond villain with his shaved head, scars, and cat. From top to bottom, the visual aspects of this film are largely designed to poke fun at movies, music, and culture of the 1960s and 1990s.
The dialogue, of course, contains a hefty amount of humor. What honestly surprised me the most about the dialogue was the number of genuinely emotional moments. Austin Powers is a man out of time. He only wants to have fun as he did in 1967, but most of his moves and tricks don't work in the 90s. He also missed so much by volunteering to be put on ice, and the moments that movie dwells on this fact are some of its strongest moments.
Like I said at the beginning of this review, some things don't work in this movie, and unfortunately, they cannot be ignored. The amount of humor in this movie that doesn't work is surprising. I don't know if that is because my taste in humor has changed significantly since the last time I saw an Austin Powers movie or because its humor is not as strong as its sequels. There are a few jokes that go on too long (example: the scene where Austin Powers literally uses the restroom for several minutes straight after coming out of cryofreeze), the sex jokes get repetitive quickly, and the constant spoofing of other franchises gets old very quickly. In particular, there are quite a few sex jokes that seem to be present only to make adolescents laugh. That isn't to say that all of them are bad. Most of the jokes are good, there are a few that are excellent, and there are some really funny quotable lines. There are just enough of bad jokes to ensure the movie loses a few points. All in all, I think the other movies in the series must have improved on their humor after this one.
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, while not without its flaws, is still a strong start to the franchise. Mike Myers did an outstanding job in his performances as both the hero and the villain. Spoof movies are difficult to make in such a way that the movie actually works, not just as a spoof but also as a genuine movie. This movie managed to do that ad kick off a franchise that is still watched and remembered to this day. Even though the humor is not that great in this first entry compared to its sequels, it still does enough to introduce us to the characters and style of the movie itself so that we are ready for more should more come. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery is still a fun movie that can be enjoyed by many people, and I would recommend it for anyone who likes a bit of raunchy humor.
Final Rating: 6/10
3: Painfully Below Average
4: Below Average
6: Above Average
Ryan O’Connor is a fifth-year senior studying physics at CWU. He is an avid gamer and nerd and loves to share and hear opinions about anything related to these things. He is also the DJ on Electropolis known as LYNX.