Posted on June 30, 2018
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery is a comedy film directed by Jay Roach. The film stars Mike Myers and Elizabeth Hurley.
This spoof film follows Austin Powers, a British spy that aims to foil the plans of his nemesis, Dr. Evil.
The film lovingly mocks James Bond, 1960’s/1990’s culture, and the spy genre in general.
The Story (SPOILERS)
The story for Austin Powers is still under construction.
The film opens in 1967. Austin Powers, a British spy, is being harassed by a legion of fans.
He is soon joined by his partner, Mrs. Kensington and they race toward Electric Psychedelic Pussycat Swingers Club, a London nightclub.
They thwart an assassination attempt by his nemesis, Dr. Evil.
Dr. Evil escapes in a space rocket disguised as a Big Boy statue, and cryogenically freezes himself. Powers volunteers to be placed into cryostasis in case Dr. Evil ever returns in the future.
Thirty years later, in 1997, Dr. Evil returns to discover his henchman Number 2 has developed Virtucon, the legitimate front of Evil’s empire, into a multibillion-dollar enterprise. Uninterested by genuine business, Dr. Evil conspires to steal nuclear weapons and hold the world hostage for $100 billion. Evil also learns that, during his absence, his associates have artificially created his son, Scott Evil, using his frozen semen. Now a Generation X teenager, Scott is resentful of his father’s absence and resists Dr. Evil’s attempts to get closer to him.
Having learned of Dr. Evil’s return, the British Ministry of Defence unfreezes Powers, acclimatizing him to the 1990s with the help of agent Vanessa Kensington, the daughter of his sidekick in the 1960s, Mrs. Kensington. From that point in the film, it quickly melts into a fish-out-of water tale of someone struggling to adapt to the (then) modern world.
Austin Powers is the best kind of spoof film. None of the jokes feel too mean-spirited toward the genre, have any tonal issues, or even detract from the story.
The characters are so enjoyable that it developed an identity apart from the “spoof” genre. That alone is reason enough to warrant a view, even if the risqué protagonist is a bit off-putting.
As a fish-out-of-water film, it does fine. This film is the most “film-like” in the series, due to Austin’s dilemma of being in a strange era, locale, and societal culture.
The success that this film has gotten is absolutely warranted. Spawning several sequels, there is no doubt that there was enough to justify continuing the story.
The sequels went for more comedic character interactions and less storytelling, which is a shame based on how well-executed it is here.
This film’s pacing is sharp, structured, and has empathetic reasoning that the others lack.
If you’re looking for an enjoyable comedy that has more depth than expected, please give this one a try.
The culture clash between the 60’s and 90’s is poignant and holds up far better than the early 2000’s sequel with Beyoncé.