Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Austin Powers Trilogy

Groovy, Baby - Three Times Over

Looking for a laugh? Then Austin Powers is the man for you! The Austin Powers films pray upon the culture of the 60s and of today and spoofs James Bond and other sixties spy programs with eccentric henchman, evil plans, secret lairs, ironically named and scantily clad women and even a John Barry-like soundtrack. Mike Myers is great and hilarious - completely lost in character and makeup - as Swinging Brit Spy Austin Powers, the evil genius Dr. Evil (although he's not exactly a "hands on" evil genius") and more. Packed with spoof humor, hilarious gags, bathroom jokes and funny cameos, the Austin Powers films have me laughing from start to finish.

In the first installment of the Austin Powers series, Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery (1997), Dr. Evil is cryogenically frozen and escapes into space to come back at a different time. Austin Powers is then also cryogenically frozen, being the only person who can stop him. When Dr. Evil returns to earth in 1997, with a desire for world domination, he finds himself unfortunately surrounded by "frickin' idiots" and is just plain out of his element as well. So Austin Powers is thawed out of his cryogenic state to, with the help of sexy secret agent Vanessa Kensington (played by Elizabeth Hurley), stop Dr. Evil's plans of world domination. A lot has happened since Austin was frozen, the Cold War is over ("Groovy, yeah Capitalism!") and society has changed too: unprotected promiscuous sex and extensive use of drugs are not the norm (so Hollywood seems to think). Austin has to deal with his raging culture shock as he halts Dr. Evil's plan, leading to many hilarious events that end up creating a great 60s satire with International Man Of Mystery.

The second installment of the Austin Powers series, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999), is bigger, funnier and all-out better than the first. Where International Man of Mystery was a focused sixties spy genre and culture spoof, The Spy Who Shagged Me is focused more on comedic gags and humor that comes from characters more than the written word. Sure, The Spy Who Shagged Me makes less of a point than the first Austin Powers film - but if you were watching International Man Of Mystery with your brain switched on, you probably will not notice. Also, new characters make an appearance: Mini-me (Dr. Evils 1/8 sized clone), Fat Bastard (he weighs a metric ton, and is a bastard) and Felicity Shagwell (played by Heather Graham, the best Austin Powers girl of the series). In this film, Dr. Evil goes back to 1969 via a time machine to steal Austin Powers' mojo in an attempt to take him out of the equation when he tries take over the world again. The Spy Who Shagged Me is my favorite of the Austin Powers series, continuing the James Bond spoof and is filled with more and better humor.

In the third and final installment of the Austin Powers series, Austin Powers In Goldmember (2002), Austin Powers goes on yet another laugh-filled mission. Dr. Evil has employed the "crazy Dutch bastard" Goldmember (another Mike Myers-portrayed character - the count is now four, I believe) from the 1970s to help him take over the world. Where Dr. Evil has honestly tried to take over the world in the two former Austin Powers movies, despite his humorous side-escapades, he just does not care anymore here in Goldmember and is just totally screwing around - and it is hilarious. Austin has his share of extra trials outside of having to stop another Dr. Evil plot - his father Nigel Powers (Michael Caine) has brought all of Austin's daddy issues to the surface. Having to go back in time again, the Austin Powers series gets to poke fun at another decade - the 1970s. The time travel aside, Goldmember remains more of a popular culture spoof than any other of the Austin Powers movies. And with scene-to-scene hilarity, spoofs and even more cameos than the other Powers films, Goldmember is a great finale for the Austin Powers series.

CBC Rating: 7/10

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