Picks and Pans Review: Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
Mike Myers-has written not one but two juicy parts for himself in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, an effervescent but puny spoof of all those swinging '60s secret agent movies typified by Dean Martin's Matt Helm series and Michael Caine's The Ipcress File. As superspy Austin Powers, Myers sports plush sideburns, a psychedelic Carnaby Street wardrobe that makes him look like a walking Peter Max drawing, and crooked teeth. As Powers's malevolent nemesis Dr. Evil, Myers wears a black Nehru jacket and sports a shaved pate. Both characters had themselves frozen back in 1967 and now, after thawing out in 1997, have resumed their struggle between the forces of good and Evil.
It's not easy switching decades. Powers, an incorrigible playboy, is ill-equipped to cope in a world where women object to being called "baby" upon first acquaintance. And Dr. Evil has his own problems, starting with his outdated plan to blackmail the British royal family by making it appear as if Prince Charles has had an extramarital affair.
The '60s stuff is dead-on funny, from the Mary Quant-quaint costumes to Powers's period slang ("Let's shag now, baby") to his deficient dentistry ("In Britain in the '60s, you could have bad teeth and still be a sex symbol," another character explains helpfully). What doesn't work, and is inexcusably overindulged, is smutty humor, including an extended excretory scene that makes Dumb & Dumber's seem flush with comic genius. This is Beavis and Butt-head turf, the sort of thing that makes some 13-year-old boys snigger with glee. Myers, as he proves in much of Powers, is smarter than that. (PG-13)