Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery Review

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Goofy '60s superspy Austin Powers is cryogenicaly frozen then thawed 30 years later when his nemesis Dr. Evil threatens the world.


Impassioned anglophile Mike Myers is granted leave to indulge his Brit fancy with this all-singing, all-dancing comic homage to the '60s Bondian spy genre, resulting in a garish, unsubtle, completely OTT movie trip delivered with no small amount of guile, wit and genuine affection for the object of its ritual abuse.
Leaving no reference untapped, Myers reworks his Wayne's World camera-winkage into a vintage turn, throwing in two fine-tuned roles for the price of one - the rakish, incisor-abundant superspy Austin Powers and his scheming Blofeld-flavoured nemesis Dr. Evil hoisting nefarious little pinky to lips after each despotic delivery. They're pitted together in a carnival of spoofery, the pair cryogenically frozen in 1967 then redeposited in 1997 to be faced with sexual politics, redefined caddishness and all the dry-docked fish antics their '60s hippie/megalomaniac personas can muster in the po-faced '90s. Meanwhile, Hurley is the natural foil. Sending herself up with surprising willingness, she's still drop dead sexy in figure- hugging catsuits struggling to keep the randy Powers at arm's length.
The task at hand is a gleeful undermining of the staple cliches of spy culture - the cliffhanger escape sequences, the nutty global threat, the gadgets and gimmickry all brought down to size. While 007 is the main port-of-call, Myers' joyously ironic script fiddles with the pop-camp of all those slick '60s spy jaunts from The Persuaders to Matt Helm, against a general send-up of London's swinging decade - the opening salvo is a shimmering pop dance routine with the ever-velvet clad Powers strutting his groove alongside cheery Beefeaters, smiling bobbies, scarlet phoneboxes and his Union Jack E-type, clearly dumped on a studio backlot.
There are moments of overindulgence, a hankering to fill every frame with (occasionally repetitive) humour which upsets the film's rhythm. And referencing yourself smacks of conceit - buffooning around in his Y-fronts has become an irritating Myers "motif". But there's enough inspiration to counter the desperation - sporadic cutaways to the jangly timbre of psychedelic Powers-starred musical numbers; cameos from kitsch icons (Rob Lowe, Carrie Fisher, Michael York, Robert Wagner); a trippy soundtrack rewired for modern tastes and a set of puerile penis-breast cover-up routines which are, sadly, unavoidably hysterical.

        It's a cult hit already. Be there or be square, baby.

It's a cult hit already. Be there or be square, baby.