When watching movies with Karen, we’ve been on a bit of a nostalgia kick lately. This feels odd to type, since I’m now talking about movies from the 1990s, which are old, even though I watched them in my childhood. While we might eventually, begrudgingly watch the third to round out the trilogy, the past week we managed to cram in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery and Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.
We checked them out in order, and in contrast with my memories, the first one is actually a fairly tame and at-times subtle parody of the spy genre. It might be because the second and third installment (especially) were bloated with cameos, but the first Austin Powers movie moves at a fairly regular pace, and isn’t all that meta. They actually tried, and succeeded, at making a film that combined the spy genre with romantic comedy, although clearly erring more on the side of comedy. Austin develops and matures as a character, and again, it’s something I had either forgotten or blocked out completely since my last viewing of the movie, which probably came in college.
Now, within five minutes of the second film, all of that character and emotional development from the first movie is wiped out. It’s just an hour and 37 minutes of gags, with a tiny bit of a fake crisis thrown into the middle. (Really, we’re to believe Austin would get upset about Felicity Shagwell screwing an enemy agent? The movie started with him doing a dance after his wife from the previous movie turns out to be a rowe-butt.)
All of the best parts of the second movie are basically unconnected gags to the main plot, but to be clear, that’s perfectly fine! As I’ve aged, the scene where Austin drinks shit isn’t quite as uproariously funny as when I first saw it in the theater at 15… But I still chuckled. Now that I’m older and more mature, I go for the incredibly subtle humor of the radar jokes and Woody Harrelson. “No, I’ve seen bigger.” The montages also feature a who’s-who of “oh THAT guy!” from other movies, like Champ Kind from Anchorman, Charles Napier, Fred Stoller, the guy who got laid off in Wayne’s World… (Side note: Ed O’Neill was awesome in Married With Children but his prominence in that show probably cost him some other acting opportunities, because he’s wonderful in little bits here and there.)
Anyway! As I said, I’ll circle back to the third one at some point, potentially, even though it basically tries to copy the gag-gag-gag format of the second with diminishing returns. Also, Buzzfeed has come through with this good listicle of 20 things you might not know about the Austin Powers series.
It answers my biggest question from the second movie – What the hell happened to Felicity Shagwell? She apparently left Austin because he was still in love with Vanessa, but the scene ending up deleted from the third movie. Final note: The deleted scenes for the first two movies are definitely worth checking out, because many of them should have made it into the cut of the movie.
(Note: I was going to include something about the potential Austin Powers 4, but the existence of that movie seems to be in debate. Rumors flare up every couple of years, but there isn’t anything concrete about it coming out in 2017 except for an IMDB listing, which only has Myers listed.)