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Austin Powers--It's groovy, baby, yeah!
movie review by Gary Johnson

Go to: the official web site for Austin Powers

  [rating: 2½ of 4 stars]
After 30 years in a deep freeze, British secret agent Austin Powers is defrosted to help save the world. Part world-class photographer, part international playboy, and completely randy 24 hours a day, Austin Powers lives in a '60s time-warp, not noticing that the age of "free love" has turned into the age of AIDS and "political correctness."

Movie poster for Austin Powers.

New Line Cinema. All rights reserved.)

Words like "shag" (as in "I bet she shags like a minx") and "groovy" roll off his tongue. But when Dr. Evil threatens to destroy the world, Austin Powers ("Danger is my middle name") comes to the rescue.

From the same whacked out imagination responsible for Wayne's World, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery is a frequently hilarious comedy that revels in outrageous color schemes in true '60s fashion. The movie is all Mike Myers. He plays Austin Powers as well as Austin's arch nemesis, Dr. Evil, a double role in the tradition of comic greats Peter Sellers and Alec Guinness. In addition, Myers wrote and produced the movie. This means Austin Powers is an unrelenting silly movie that revels in its own goofiness.

In fact, your ability to appreciate this movie will be directly related to your ability to endure its virtual non-stop barrage of silly jokes. You'll see the Fembots: seductive female robots who pack retractable .45 caliber guns in their breasts and wear see-through negligees and pink, fuzzy brassieres. You'll see outrageous sight gags as when Austin wanders naked around his hotel room and the camera is conveniently located so that his naughty bits remain covered up (behind a bottle of wine, behind a magnifying glass, behind a sausage!).

Austin Powers (Mike Myers) and the Fembots.

New Line Cinema. All rights reserved.)

I loved the silliness--thanks to the retro designs of production designer Cynthia Charette and the outrageous visual humor of director Jay Roach and photographer Peter Deming (who also photographed Scream and Lost Highway). However, Austin Powers never really becomes much more than a shaggy dog story. Most of the scenes seem incomplete, as if the big punch lines are missing. Even some of the funniest scenes never seem to really hit much of a peak. As a result, some of the simpler scenes end up working best, as when Austin's assistant (Elizabeth Hurley) sums up Austin's personality "that's you in a nutshell" and Austin says "No, here's me in a nutshell--HELP! I'm in a nutshell!" Or an hilarious scene when Austin picks up his personal effects after he is thawed out and the guard calmly places a penis enlarger on the counter: "That's not mine, baby!" says Austin. But even if Austin Powers remains little more than a shaggy-dog story, it's a damn funny shaggy-dog story. And I loved those Fembots.

Mike Myers and Elizabeth Hurley.

(©1997 New Line Cinema. All rights reserved.)

One of the real surprises of Austin Powers is Elizabeth Hurley. She emerges as a good comedic actress. And she looks absolutely fabulous in a metallic mini-skirt as she and Austin try to escape from Dr. Evil's lair. Unlike so many models who end up wooden in front of a movie camera, Hurley projects a fun and sexy image. In addition, Carrie Fisher gets a good cameo as a group therapist who helps Dr. Evil and his son reconcile their feelings. And Tom Arnold gets a very funny cameo as a Las Vegas gambler who meets Austin in the men's room: while Arnold sits on a toilet doing his business, he hears Austin grunting and groaning (he's getting strangled by one of Dr. Evil's henchmen). "Hey, buddy," shouts Arnold. "Don't force it. You'll bust a gut."

Austin Powers doesn't really add up to much, but if you like non sequiturs and off-the-wall comedy you'll have a field day with this movie.


Austin PowersMike Myers
Vanessa KensingtonElizabeth Hurley
Dr. EvilMike Myers
Basil ExpositionMichael York
Mrs. KensingtonMimi Rogers
Number TwoRobert Wagner
Scott EvilSeth Green
Alotta FaginaFabiana Udenio
Frau FarbissinaMindy Sterling
Payy O'BrienPaul Dillon
Commander GilmourCharles Napier
MustafaWill Ferrell
Group TherapistCarrie Fisher
Las Vegas CowboyTom Arnold
FembotsCheryl Bartel
Cindy Margolis
Donna W. Scott
Barbara Ann Moore
Cynthia Lamontagne
Directed byJay Roach
Produced bySuzanne Todd
Jennifer Todd
Demi Moore
Mike Myers
Screenplay byMike Myers
Director of PhotographyPeter Deming
Production DesignerCynthia Charette
Costume DesignerDeena Appel
EditorDebra Neil-Fisher
Music byGeorge S. Clinton
Executive ProducersEric McLeod
Claire Rudnick Polstein
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