Trilogy Thursday: Austin Powers
Hi everyone, Max from Impassionedcinema and Terrence from TheFocusedFilmographer are here to talk about a new trilogy. This time we tackle the comedy series Austin Powers. This was Terrence’s first time with the series so it will be interesting to see how it worked or didn’t for him.
Max: The ultimate comedy swirl on the ever popular James Bond series. Austin Powers follows a 60′s British Spy Icon through his unfreezing (and endless pee cycle) because he is needed once again to stop the evil…Dr.Evil. I can’t even begin to remember how Dr.Evil plans to end the world this time, but Austin Powers is up for the job. Mike Myers plays both characters in this chapter of the series and it can be argued the Dr.Evil might be the more memorable character from the series. Austin finds himself teamed up with the daughter of his former partner, Vanessa Kensington (Elizabeth Hurley). The gags are memorable here and it’s a fine one off film, but things get a little more problematic in the sequels. One of the best gags in this movie was the creation of the fembots. It’s a fantastic idea that seems to be lifted from Myers inspiration for his character: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
T: When this 007 parody film came out, I honestly wasn’t the least bit interested. A hipster spy from the swinging 60′s with bad teeth and an insatiable taste for women, adventure, and care-free loving is thawed out after being cryo-frozen for decades when the world is threatened and in need of saving. He is awakened in the 1990s to stop his old nemesis (the recently also-unthawed Dr. Evil) who has threatened the world with nuclear destruction. This quirky adventurer is joined by the beautiful agent Vanessa Kensington (Elizabeth Hurley) to stop Dr. Evil and, together, they fight against fembots with machine gun brassieres and several other inappropriately/hilariously named villains in this fun-filled, sex-crazed, bold comedic spoof of spy films from the 60′s. We’ve all heard of celebrities naming their kids weird names, but any parent who names their kid “Alotta Fagina” has some SERIOUS issues! (And you thought Jermajesty, child of Jermaine Jackson, had it bad!) haha. I jest. It’s all part of the fun of the movie sharing in the free love ideology of the 60′s!
I laughed here and there, but found the “pause and stare/talk to the camera” scenes and the “interrupting completely unrelated-yet tell a little story” scenes to get old very quickly. (The television show “Scrubs” really did perfect the use of such scenes.) The best part of this movie (aside from Seth Green), by far, was Mike Myers. His multi-character performance excelled and made several characters come to life with their own personalities, looks, and passions. Proving he could be more than just be Wayne Campbell of Wayne’s World. (Eddie Murphy, why can’t you learn from Myers?) Overall, this was a fun introduction to an outlandish set of characters. Though 2-dimensional, they were funny. I couldn’t really see where else the series could go…but, the sequel came and two years later, The Spy Who Shagged Me showed up!
Max: Low and behold Austin’s bride has turned out to be an evil fembot! The movie begins with that terribly hard to believe fact that just makes us realize we’re not here for a story at all. In order to stop Dr. Evil this time, Austin must travel back into the 60′s to get his mojo back. Myers decides to add another character of his own into the series (Fat Bastard). While he has some great lines overall he doesn’t work. The female lead from the last one was deleted so that Austin Powers could have a new love interest. Felicity Shagwell (Heather Graham) provides that element and they seemingly have decent chemistry. The finale of this film is taken right out of Moonraker. Easily one of the worst Bond movies, it was ripe for spoofing. If there’s a scene I remember from this movie its easily when Felicity and Austin are casting shadows on the side of the tent.
T: Powers returns, and impressively of the bat this sequel got my attention because it began right where its predecessor left off! Great way to keep continuity and relate to the adventure at hand! (That’s one of the strengths to me in a series…try watching Star Wars: Episode IV immediately after watching Episode III…FAIL.)
In this adventure, Powers discovers that things from his previous mission were not all what they seemed and things get even more complicated when he loses his “mojo!” Several new characters are introduced in this sequel including Myers in a fat suit and the gorgeous Heather Graham as agent Felicity Shagwell. Dr. Evil now has a time machine and successfully goes back in time and steals Powers’ mojo! Now, without his sexual prowess, Powers must fight to thwart Dr. Evil’s never-ending/never-changing plan that he just might have learned from one “Pinky and the Brain.”
The added characters in this film brought the right amount of freshness to this otherwise stale sequel. Dr. Evil’s clone “Mini-Me”, Fat Bastard, Felicity Shagwell, and more made the film just FUN with each scene. (I did, however, find Fat Bastard to be a little redundant over the course of the film.) The continuity of the same actors reprising their previous roles allowed the newcomers to shine in their respect and did make the film just plain fun. A film like this needs to be “just plain fun.” It makes fun of itself and of other blockbuster films. While still using some of the same outlandish and droll jokes from the first Austin Powers film, The Spy Who Shagged Me was weirdly enjoyable. Not my brand of comedy, per se, but I liked it. Perhaps for Heather Graham (best part of this installment); or perhaps for the continuation of the awesome choices of music. I cared little about the mission and just wanted to find something to enjoy after not being greatly impressed by the first film.