DIRECTOR: Jay Roach
May Contain Spoilers!
Before Shrek, there was Fat Bastard. Quite literally, as the gross Scottish assassin’s voice is a match for the green ogre, but Mike Myers greatest character creation was clearly Dr. Evil. Austin Powers was established two years earlier in 1997’s Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery, a film which left me cold, in spite of running with a good concept.
But by his second outing, Powers and Myers had taken off and finally found their footing and the James Bond spoof was on course to be one of then best of its kind. James Bond is only a stones throw away from parody most of the time anyway and at its best, with films such as Goldfinger (1964), 007 was outlandish as well as fun and still topical. Austin Powers runs with this and nicely takes off the genre and has a lot of fun playing around with concepts and cracks open the plot holes to explore what’s wrong with one of cinemas most famous franchises.
But like all great spoofs, it doesn’t do this maliciously. It’s a loving and knowing parody, where the laughs are derived from sharing the joke and taking the humour into causer and a more cruder direction in order to cram in the laughs without devaluing the source material.
But it’s Powers’ nemesis who steals the show, as Dr. Evil (also Myers), who has now a 1/8th size clone of himself, Mini-me (Verne Troyer), for company. The all-star cast make this a pleasure to watch as the time tunnel has now being introduced, which allows our characters to return to 1969, which is clearly the natural home for any self-respecting Bond spoof, rather that the 1997 setting of the first film.
Overall, there’s little between this and the final film of the Austin Powers Trilogy, Goldmember, but a chasm separating these two gems from the first. But let’s face it, any film which begins with Elizabeth Hurley getting killed in the opening act is well worth the price of admission.