Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery Turns 25, But Does It Hold Up?

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It’s been 25 years since Austin Powers: The International Mystery Man premiere, and if you’re like me, you probably haven’t seen the original Austin Powers in almost as long.

When it comes to Mike Myers, I mostly watch Wayne’s World or even the first two Shrek (the Shrek 2 the soundtrack is a thing of beauty). That being said, the lines of Austin Powers: The International Mystery Man have rooted themselves in my synapses since my first viewing at age seven in 1997. If you were a child/teen in your late 90s, chances are you spent most of your teenage years to shout “Oh, behave yourself! or if you were a particular brand of rapscallion, “Am I making you horny?”

But the passage of time has flattened my memories of the movie, settling it into the trash can of the misogynistic ’90s comedies I’ve loved since I was basically raised as a filthy little boy. A lifelong fan of James Bond and 007 (I dressed up as a spy for Halloween last year Austin Powers released), the film was catnip for a problematic young self.

A Saturday Night Live former, Mike Myers (not to be confused with Michael Meyers, the mad killer of the Halloween franchise) brought in a few of its former cast members, like Will Ferrell, to play small roles. The notable parallel here is another SNL alum making films in the 90s, Adam Sandler, who would play adorable misogynists not sixties. (A notable exception is The Wedding Singer; not only was it set in the 80s, but Sandler’s character, Robbie Hart, was a gem of a man.)

Although Sandler’s films often started with the lovable loser trope of being a mild-mannered misogynist and revolved around his redemption, Myers decided to imagine if James Bond was a disgusting secret agent but still a sex symbol of the sixties. transported in the 1990s via cryogenic freezing. Moving his secret agent from the 1950s to the 1960s was a clever move on Myers’ part, allowing him to imbue Austin Powers with idealistic sentiments of free love rather than James Bond’s cold superiority over the women he sleeps with. and ultimately give up. Of course, Powers is a cultural cousin, if not brother, to Evelyn Tremble (played by Peter Sellers) in the 1967 James Bond parody. Casino Royale).

A speech Myers gives near the end of the film explains why it’s hard to see Powers’ feminization as anything other than cheeky fun. When Dr. Evil (also played by Myers) tells Powers that his ideology has failed, the titular spy replies:

No, man, what us swingers were rebelling against was tight squares like you, whose bag was money and world domination. We were innocent, man. If we had known the consequences of our sexual liberation, we would have done things differently, but the spirit would have remained the same. It’s freedom, man.

That’s why right now is a very groovy time, man. We still have freedom, but we also have responsibility.

In response, Dr. Evil says the ominously prophetic, “Truly, there’s nothing more pathetic than an aging hipster.” It is interesting to me that just two years later, entities are attempting to capture the magic of Woodstock with a poorly planned and executed event titled Woodstock ’99, the second of two attempts. It seems Austin PowersThe assessment was quickly ignored and the majority of the population leaned towards Dr. Evil’s capitalist nihilism. It seems prescient now, especially given how the definition of – and the commodification of – “hipster” has evolved. But that’s a discussion for another time.

Transcending the broader cultural implications and commentary of the film, Austin Powers popularized a widespread trend in comedy: a SNL alum playing multiple roles for comedic effect. To give credit where credit is due, Eddie Murphy’s crazy teacher was released the previous year, barely beating Austin Powers in a fist. But crazy teachera largely forgettable release, hardly had the same impact as the Austin Powers franchise (luckily we won’t dive into the 2000s Nutty Professor II: The Klumps). The latest and late entry into this comedic trend came in the form of the commercial and critical failure of Adam Sandler. Jack and Jill (2011).

Will we see the trend of one comic, many roles return? It seems, in a roundabout way, that it has: Netflix’s limited series The Pentaverate, featuring Mike Myers in many masks, debuted on May 5. It makes sense – the first Woodstock rehash took place 25 years after the original festival.

Personally, I’d love to see a new iteration of the spy parody genre with a gender-swapped Bond. We got close to Melissa McCarthy To spy (2015), but all the fun and crazy shots at James Bond have been reserved for Jason Statham’s character. We’ll see if a true, self-aware, female Bond parody ever happens, but until that day, a filthy ex-boyfriend can dream and see again Austin Powers. After all, he hasn’t aged as badly as I expected.


Brooke Knisley is a freelance journalist and comedy writer. She has balance problems. Let her stalk you on Twitter @BrookeKnisley.


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