This file was generated 2002-06-09 04:23 GMT. This movie's information hasn't changed since 2001-09-02.
Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> July 1997 >> Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
Austin Powers may be aimed primarily as a spoof on all things James Bond, but it works as a comedy even if you're blissfully unaware of most of the conventions. I hadn't seen a Bond movie before seeing Austin Powers, and I still thought it was fantastic. I've since seen a half-dozen Bonds, and I get to enjoy the spoofs in reverse.
Mike Myers does double duty by playing the two juiciest characters in any such movie: the hero and the villain. In addition to playing both deliciously over-the-top, he has the added advantage of making them both struggle to understand the differences between the late 1990s and the 1960s. The combination of breaking well-established rules and excellent physical comedy results in a lot of laughs.
The supporting cast is also excellent. Mindy Sterling's Frau Farbissina is a wonderfully absurd charicature of Lotte Lenya's turn in From Russia with Love, but the movie is smart enough to give her more material to work with than that. Neil Mullarkey, the clerk returning Austin's personal belongings to him after his thaw, gets plenty of mileage simply out of playing bemused. Let's not forget Robert Wagner's Number Two, whose stone-faced seriousness is a major asset as Evil's top henchman. Choice cameos by Larry Thomas, Carrie Fisher, Tom Arnold, and Burt Bacharach round it all out.
Even though the song most people come away from Austin Powers whistling is the Quincy Jones classic "Soul Bossa Nova", the original score by George S. Clinton is perfect. It has just enough suggestion of the John Barry scores that accompany the first dozen Bonds. Clinton has also done excellent work for movies like Wild Things and Mortal Kombat, none of which sound anything like the others.
I found an anachronism! Margaret Thatcher didn't become Prime Minister of England until 1979, thirteen years after Austin and Dr. Evil got icy. She was elected to Parliament in 1959, but would Austin really be on top of that kind of thing? Is that what being an international man of mystery is all about? Of course, in a movie about two walking anachronisms, is it really such a big deal to identify more?
The Austin Powers DVD is a real treat. There are several deleted scenes, some of which you're glad they left out, some of which would've been nice. The "Music to Shag To" sequence is a little weak, and I'm having trouble figuring out the Penis Enlarger bit in the extras area. The cameo menus, which take you directly to the scenes of the featured actor, are a nice touch. The menus, though, are occasionally difficult to use without some fiddling because the options are clustered together in odd ways. Worse, there are sometimes multiple colors for options that aren't selected, making it that much harder to identify the selected item.
The commentary track by Mike Myers and director Jay Roach is very informative, talking about technique, gag sources, removed jokes, and performer backgrounds. Sometimes the commentary is as funny as the movie itself. Unfortunately, the commentary track does not have the movie audio mixed in at all, so there are occasionally long silences when it would be nice to hear the movie. Worse, the commentary track is mixed much softer than the movie, so bouncing back and forth requires a volume adjustment.
The transfer of the movie is very nice. The only noticeable defect was in the closing credits, where the horizontal movement has horrible interleaving artifacts. The credits occupying the rest of the screen probably wreak havoc with the motion vectors.